Billy Jo Saunders: A man without a fight
By Angel Flowers: Billy Jo Saunders: Nowhere to turn
Poor Billy Jo Saunders, in today’s boxing world he finds himself with nowhere to turn despite being champion. Saunders is the undefeated middleweight champion from the U.K. and should be a star by now but finds himself having a lack of quality fights. Sure there are tough fights out there, he could move up to super middleweight or take on a string of hard punching slick boxers in his own division but none of those situations will garner him any type of respect.
Currently Saunders is without a real dance partner for his upcoming fight and will have to resort to fighting whoever the #1 contender is, currently Avtandil Khurtsidze a guy no one outside of diehard boxing fans know. Whether or not it will be a good fight or a tough fight is beside the point, if Saunders beats Khurtsidze that will gain him no recognition. Khurtisdze while a great boxer has no fan following, this is not a guy that will likely ever be pay per view draw, beating Khurtsidze will give him the same respect as beating any of the bottom feeders in the division. Although there are some big names out there only a few of them make sense.
David Lemieux is a guy many people are hyping to be a great fighter based off of his knockout of Curtis Stevens. Lemieux holds an 89% knockout ratio in his last 20 fights and that would seemingly give him some legitimacy but it does not. Saunders has already beaten a more popular fighter with a higher knockout percentage in his last twenty fights in beating Chris Eubank Jr. Lemieux is a guy that was thoroughly beaten to a pulp during his fight with the other middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
Maybe if Saunders was the first person to beat Lemieux, but he was sparked out by Marco Antonio Rubio, another virtually unknown boxer as well. Fighting Lemieux would be seen as cherry picking for a lot of people, no disrespect to Lemieux but at this point in his career he is more of a gateway fighter for younger talent instead of the elite of the division. While many will talk about his last bout with Curtis Stevens, who exactly is Curtis Stevens? I see him as another fight not worth having for Lemieux.
Curtis Stevens is another one of Golovkin’s leftovers, a guy who got in the ring and seemed afraid to throw any punches at Golovkin and just covered up on the ropes during most of the bout. Curtis Stevens has already been beaten and sparked out by three different boxers and has been defeated and additional three times in decisions that really were not as close as the judges gave him. Some of his losses were by Jesse Brinkley and Marcos Primera, two guys hardly anyone would recognize. Stevens is not a draw at all in his home country so a fight with him would be pointless for Saunders, beating Stevens would be seen as nothing special and bring virtually no money. Another boxer people are starting to land praise on is recently defeated Daniel Jacobs.
Daniel Jacobs is not a big name; I mean that in the best way possible. Jacobs is not a pay per view guy or arguably not even a guy you can put on HBO or Showtime if he is the headliner. In my opinion, Jacobs is the kind of guy you will watch in the semi-main event on Premier Boxing Championship or perhaps Big Knockout Boxing if that organization hasn’t gone under. Jacobs is a guy who was thoroughly dominated then knocked out by Dmitry Pirog.
Sure Jacobs has a win over Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin, another boxer with little fanfare who was previously highly hyped himself but Jacobs still doesn’t have a big following. What Jacobs does have is that he managed to box Gennady Golovkin in what was perhaps the fight of his life. Jacobs just matched up well against Golovkin and then overachieved in the ring. No matter the outcome a fight with Jacobs is pointless for Saunders. It wouldn’t be a decent payday for Saunders and beating Jacobs will be seen more as a “So What?” The only real fight for Saunders is that from multi-titleholder Gennady Golovkin, a fight I don’t see getting made.
Gennady Golovkin is a feared puncher who I think isn’t managed correctly. Golovkin himself though I believe doesn’t want the fight himself despite the fact the majority of the boxing world thinks he would do well in it. Golovkin is a guy who challenged former Jr. Lightweight champion Floyd Mayweather to a fight at 154, Golovkin claimed he was a small middleweight and he really wouldn’t be fighting a guy much smaller than he was. Mayweather was retired at the time but many from the 154 pound division wanted to fight Golovkin at 154, fights which he chose not to take.
When Saul Alvarez, a guy who fights at 154 pounds offered to fight him at 155 and offered him at the him what would have been almost 7 times his biggest payday he didn’t take it. Alvarez ended up fighting welterweight Amir Khan, a move heavily criticized by Golovkin since he wanted the fight at 160. Golovkin then went on to say he wanted all the belts, Saunders tried to make the fight then but Golovkin despite criticizing Alvarez fought another welterweight himself in Ezekiel Brook, having the much smaller man up to the full weight class of 160 pounds instead of a catch weight like Alvarez had with Khan so the smaller man could retain some of his advantages.
Golovkin has been on record since then saying he wants to unify the middleweight division, but Saunders should not hold his breath. Golovkin is busy chasing a fight with the Jr. Middleweight champion Alvarez instead of fighting guys in his own division. Saunders gave Golovkin an ultimatum to make the fight but Golovkin ignored it, which could be a bad move by his management. Golovkin is perhaps the biggest name at middleweight which really doesn’t say much I’m afraid. His last two pay per views were dismal, combined they brought in just over 300k despite fighting other champions.
Golovkin’s age is perhaps catching up with him, a fighter of his caliber should have had an easy time with someone like Jacobs. The fight he wants with Alvarez is probably not going to happen, Golovkin was offered the fight at 160 and 15 million dollars, his biggest payday by far and he turned it down, probably thanks to his management. That was retirement type money, more than what Marcos Maidana made in two fights with Mayweather. I believe Golovkin really does not want to unify the titles, perhaps they see something in Saunders to be afraid of.
Saunders is a big middleweight, we all saw Golovkin struggle with Jacobs who he should have beaten easily. Golovkin and his management is perhaps playing this thing right all along. They wanted no part of the Andre Ward fight, only saying they were receptive to it when it looked like he wouldn’t fight former Lt Heavyweight Sergey Kovalev. Golovkin’s people let it be known they would look into fighting Ward after his rematch with Kovalev. Now that Ward has accepted the rematch, don’t look for Golovkin to ever look his way again.
Saunders wants the Golovkin fight in the worst way, Golovkin could get his biggest payday to date in fighting Saunders in the U.K. the way he did Ezekiel Brook. Golovkin could also do what he claimed he wanted, unify the division. This would be the same scenario for Saunders, this is a win-win fight for both men.
A loss just means you loss to the unified champion of the division, of course there would be a rematch clause and even if the same person loss twice in a row, the money gained would be retirement type money. But Saunders should not hold his breath, he is a man without a big fight to be had. Maybe he should take a page out of Golovkin’s playbook and chase fights with welterweight and Jr. middleweight champions since that is the only way I can him making the money he is deserved.
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