On Saturday Ireland’s Andy Lee will put his WBO middleweight title on the line against the very talented Billy Joe Saunders in Manchester. Both fighters hail from different travelling communities adding an edge to a rivalry that so far has been hard to pick a winner from.
There is no doubt Andy Lee is the far superior when it comes to experience. He is a veteran of 37 fights with 34 wins and has only lost to Chavez Junior and Brian Vera, both of whom are big names in the states. He also has more knock-outs on his resume than Saunders has had professional fights.
It would be foolish to write Saunders off however, he had a successful amateur record and represented the UK as an Olympian. Crucially he has never been beaten in 22 fights so brings the added confidence of an undefeated fighter. The biggest name he has overcome is Eubank Junior, another exceptional talent but relatively untested like Saunders himself. And in fairness to both men the outcome of that fight was open for debate.
Andy Lee stands at nearly six feet two inches whilst Saunders is a relatively modest five ten. Therefore it seems based on stature and their respective records that Lee is the favourite, however all fighters step up their quality of opposition eventually and for Saunders that time is now. Similar to when Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn fought for in their first epic showdown. Eubank was not viewed as experienced enough to be in the same ring as Nigel Benn but it was Eubank who walked out the arena with the very same title Lee and Saunders will contest for this weekend, albeit over twenty years ago.
Interestingly this week Saunders has been quoted in the press commenting on his previous opponent Eubank junior after his recent defeat of Gary O’Sullivan “Eubank junior does not belong at world level- he is a phony. It is as simple as that.” However it might be wise to focus on his dangerous opponent this coming weekend, not one he vanquished over a year ago.