Saunders: I’m 18 months away from Golovkin fight
By Scott Gilfoid: For boxing fans hoping to see Billy Joe Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) defend his new WBO middleweight title against IBF/IBO/WBA middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs) in his first defense of his title in February or March of 2016, you can forget about it.
Saunders, 26, says he won’t be looking to fight Golovkin for another year and a half or so. This is the same thing Chris Eubank Jr. about Golovkin too. When you hear a fighter talking about not wanting to fight someone for 18 months, I see that as code for meaning that they never want to fight that person.
Saunders beat Andy Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) last Saturday night by a very, very close 12 round majority decision at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK.
It was hoped that Saunders would then do something brave like fighting Golovkin so that the boxing fans could see a nice unification fight next, but no, Saunders doesn’t want that. He’s talking about possibly fighting Chris Eubank Jr. or Lee in rematches. Saunders says he’s going to go enjoy Christmas and then sit down with his promoter after that and make a decision about his next fight.
“Golovkin is the man, isn’t he? He’s doing everything he should do,” Saunders said at the post-fight press conference last Saturday. “He’s beating people in style. He’s a very good fighter, Golovkin. You’ve got to five him 10 out of 10, fighter of the year in my opinion. He’s world class obviously. I think he’s struggling for opponents. I know he wants to win all the titles, but I’ve got to do what’s best for my career. I think Golovkin realistically, I’m 18 months away from that fight,” Saunders said.
So there it is. Saunders won’t consider fighting Golovkin for another 18 months. I don’t know what Saunders is waiting for. I mean, what’s so magical about 18 months? It’s not as if Golovkin is going to age a whole lot in the next year and a half to where he’ll be vulnerable to a feather duster type puncher like Saunders. Yeah, Golovkin is 33 now, but I don’t think he’s going to reach old age at 34 or 35. His punching power will still be as formidable then than it is now.
Like I said before, Saunders winning the WBO title was a bad thing for boxing fans wanting to see a big fight involving Golovkin, because Saunders isn’t anxious to fight him like Andy Lee was. If Lee had won the fight last Saturday, he said he was going to look to face either Golovkin or Daniel Jacobs. I haven’t heard Saunders mention either of those guys’ name since beating Lee.
The only good I can see in Saunders waiting to fight Golovkin is it will give Saunders more time to milk his WBO title before taking on Golovkin and losing his belt by a knockout loss. The thing is I see that move potentially backfiring on Saunders, because I don’t think he’s good enough to even milk his title against weak opposition. He’s talking about a potential Eubank Jr. fight if the money is right or a rematch with Lee.
Heck, Saunders would have lost if he didn’t get those two knockdowns. I still had the fight a draw even with the knockdowns. Lee now knows how to beat Saunders by staying on the outside and jabbing him. If Saunders fights Lee again, then I see him getting beaten by him. I also think Eubank Jr. would beat Saunders as well. I’m not high on Eubank Jr., but I do think he’s improved considerably since his loss to Saunders last year.
Eubank Jr. wants a rematch with Saunders. Here’s what Eubank Jr. said on his twitter after Saunders’ win over Lee:
“CHRIS EUBANK JR VS BILLY JOE SAUNDERS FOR THE WORLD TITLE… LET’S GET IT ON #2016 #TEAMEUBANK.”
For some reason, Saunders devoted a good portion of his post-fight press conference last Saturday night harping on Eubank Jr. instead of talking about the fight with Lee or about other potential opponents.
“Eubank is fighting guys [Gary O’Sullivan and Nick Blackwell] I beat two years ago,” Saunders said at the post-fight press conference. “Let Eubank go the Golovkin route or let him fight Danny Jacobs. Don’t get mandatory for a world title and then go back and fight for a British title. If you’ve got big balls go and fight for a world title. He’ll never be good enough to win a world title. He ain’t good enough. I’ll have Christmas off and I’ll decide. I’m on to bigger and better things. If the Eubank fight comes, it’s got to be for a lot of money and I’ll take it. But it’s got to be by my rules. He wants to fight somebody [Nick Blackwell] I beat in 2013. If he beats Golovkin, we’ll have a big unification fight. I’ve been there and done that. If the money is right, put a blindfold on me and I’ll beat him [Eubank Jr],” Saunders said.
I get the feeling that Saunders will wind up facing Eubank Jr. next rather than someone interesting like Arif Magomedov or Dominic Wade.