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Golovkin to Saunders: “I need WBO belt!”

Billy Joe Saunders Gennady Golovkin Kell Brook

By Scott Gilfoid: IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC middleweight champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (35-0, 32 KOs) recently got Saul Canelo” Alvarez’s World Boxing Council title after he chose to cough it up rather than fight him, and now Golovkin is targeting WBO 160lb champion Billy Joe Saunders after the Kell Brook fight. Saunders, 26, has the last remaining middleweight title not in Golovkin’s pressure and he badly wants that belt so that he can hold all the titles in his possession. I have a feeling that Saunders will have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the ring before he’d ever fight someone dangerous Golovkin.

Getting Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) to fight him may prove to be impossible, because he appears to be waiting for Canelo to fight him in December. That’s the fight that is being talked about. Canelo is expected to move up to middleweight after he makes light work of WBO 154lb strap holder Liam Smith on September 17, and it’s unlikely that Smith will be any problem for him.

When asked by Michelle Phelps who he wants to fight after Brook, Golovkin said, “Billy Joe Saunders because he’s WBO champion. For me, it doesn’t matter; Chris Eubank or Billy Joe Saunders, I need belt. Right now, my focus is Kell Brook, and next, I need belt. He’s a good boxer [Brook]. I will bring a new style. A little bit changed, maybe for speed, for moving,”said Golovkin.

This is too funny. Golovkin now demanding Saunders give him his WBO belt. Golovkin did the same thing with Canelo, who gave up his WBC title rather than risk his hide fighting him. Of course, the WBC helped Golovkin out by making Golovkin their WBC mandatory challenger after his win over Marco Antonio Rubio. I don’t see the WBO doing something similar, so that means Saunders doesn’t have to worry about being ordered by the WBO to fight GGG.

In a perfect world, Saunders will readily agree to fight Golovkin so that he can prove that he’s the best and that he’s not avoiding a fight against him, but I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Saunders have been given hope for a big money fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez, and I think he’s going to sit and wait to find out if he gets that fight. Saunders vs. Canelo would be televised on HBO pay-per-view in the States. Saunders vs. Golovkin would be just a regular fight on HBO Championship Boxing. As such, the difference in the money available for Saunders to make against Canelo would likely be a lot more.

Golovkin says his focus is on Kell Brook. Well, he sure has a good way of showing that by looking past the 30-year-old Brook towards a potential unification match against Saunders. The Brook fight might turn out to be a track meet on September 10 at the O2 Arena in London, UK. If nothing else, Brook is good at surviving in his fights, and I think he’ll do a good job of stalling out the fight by holding and running rather than fighting.

When you get a fight whose only intention is to try and survive to the final bell, then it’s really hard to knock them out because they’ll use a variety of spoiling techniques to survive but not win. We saw some of Brook’s spoiling tactics in his fight against Shawn Porter in 2014. Brook spent the entire fight grabbing Porter in one clinch after another to keep him from throwing punches.

At some point, the referee should have disqualified Brook for his excessive holding, but he failed to do so. If Brook wants to survive to the final bell against Golovkin in this fight, then all he needs to do is go back to holding nonstop to make it impossible for GGG to throw punches. If the referee is choosing to just hang around and watch the action without doing his job, then Brook will get away with holding all night long. As such, Golovkin’s long 22-fight knockout streak will end, but he’ll still get the win.

Golovkin can hound Saunders until he’s blue in the face, and I don’t see the British fighter giving him the fight. It would be too much of a mismatch if that fight took place in my view. It would be like an unofficial ceremony of the handing over of the WBO belt, because Saunders would be massacred straightaway. He would have nothing to keep Golovkin off of him other than to run like Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray did in their fight with Golovkin. I don’t think Saunders wants any part of a fight against Golovkin. He’s obviously seen enough of Golovkin’s past fights to know that he won’t stand a chance in the ring with him.

Heck, even if Saunders doesn’t fight Canelo in December, I can’t see him agreeing to fight Golovkin. I think Saunders will look to milk his World Boxing Organization title if the WBO lets him rather than take the GGG fight and wind up getting knocked out. That’s not to say that Saunders wouldn’t fight Golovkin, but I think he’ll want a big payday before he takes that fight. There’s the whole problem.

Golovkin-Saunders is not a big fight in the United States. It will never be a big fight because Saunders is not a recognizable name in the U.S. Canelo vs. Saunders might be a decent fight in the U.S, because the Mexican star has a lot of boxing fans that are willing to pay to see him fight anybody that holds a title, even a paper title. With Golovkin, he needs to fight a big name.

Saunders barely beat Andy Lee last December to win the WBO title. Saunders built up a large lead in the first six rounds after knocking Lee down twice in round three. However, Saunders was gassed out and useless after six rounds, and Lee was able to easily come back to sweep the final six rounds. The difference in the fight was the two knockdowns. If not for that, Saunders would have lost.

Saunders can’t afford to negotiate for too long for the Canelo fight because he hasn’t fought since December, and the WBO will surely strip him of the WBO belt if he doesn’t get back in the ring for make his first defense of his title. Saunders was supposed to fight Max Bursak last April, but he was injured during training camp for that fight, causing it to be canceled.


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