Andy Lee Vs Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO Middleweight Title
There is no sport more exciting to have a wager on than boxing. Football can be exciting, but once your team is 4-0 down with 2 minutes to go then it’s curtains for you and your scrappy little betting slip. Not so with boxing. Let’s use Carl Froch as an example. If you’d bet some of your assiduously earned coins on a Jermain Taylor victory back in April 2009, you’d have been elated by the final round. Taylor was comfortably ahead on two of the three judges’ cards. Froch would win the fight via TKO with 14 seconds left to go…
It’s that cliché of “it only takes one punch to win a fight” that makes it such an enthralling sport to spectate. Finally, after two postponements, Lee and Saunders fight on Saturday in Manchester for the WBO Middlewight Title. To borrow another shop-worn cliché “this is a genuine pick ’em 50-50 fight”. Hailing from Ireland, Andy Lee is currently the WBO Middleweight title holder. He won this when he scored a surprise TKO in round 6 against the technically skilled Matt Korobov; they were fighting for the vacant title. Since then he shared a draw with Peter Quillin (who both had each other tasting canvas) and has demonstrated his game changing right-hook in both of those fights. Lee was losing on points to both John Jackson and Matt Korobov before landing cleanly on Jackson’s chin to end him and setting up Korobov for the end with the same shot respectively.
Whilst not quite a maestro when it comes to actual boxing skill, Lee is capable of boxing at range. With a 75′ reach and operating as a southpaw, Lee can still be tricky to work against. That said, both of his loses (against 34 wins (24KO’s)) have been times where he has been stopped. Once against the much maligned Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and prior to that Brian Vera, who you might know after recently being halted by Rocky Fielding. The aforementioned Quillin also had Lee down twice as well – visibly hurt in fact, so there are questions on the durability of Lee’s chin. Though as stated, Lee’s right-hook is a shot dangerous to anyone in his division; it’s an equaliser that means he can’t be ruled out of any fight really. Thanks to that, he’s much more likely to be winning a fight by KO than by a points decision.
His opponent for the night is unbeaten southpaw Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders – whilst lacking genuine power – is an excellent boxer, combining his quick hand-speed with intelligent footwork to make himself a difficult night for anyone at Middleweight. His best win is against rising star Chris Eubank Jr. Whilst this was indeed a split decision I think it’s difficult to truly make a case for Saunders losing the fight. Yes it was extremely close, but it was also clear. On top of that, Saunders has used his talents to secure wins across other top fighters across the domestic scene, namely: Nick Blackwell, Gary O’Sullivan and John Ryder.
To his detriment, Saunders seemed to slow down a fair bit towards the Eubank Jr fight. Wherever this was a case of Saunders not having enough in the tank or Eubank Jr finally starting to work him out, I guess we won’t know until Saunders is dragged into the late rounds again. He’d built up a steady enough lead after the first 5 rounds so it’s possible his mentality shifted and allowed him to think he could coast the fight. Whilst confidence is a required skill to be a top fighter, being able to impose a limit on one’s own mind and halting before arrogance is equally vital.
With both fighters being southpaw I’d expect the first few rounds to be a little bit cagey. A cautious approach whilst both work the other out (in fact, I believe these rounds will edge towards Saunders slightly as he is the better boxer). Lee will eventually begin to look for that KO shot and will want to make this more of a brawl than an exhibition. Saunders has never been down in his career; he looked hurt against Eubank Jr but it’s possible this was down to fatigue as much as anything. Will that happen again? Possibly. Either way, Lee will land that right-hook eventually and as tough as Saunders has proved to be, I’m not confident it won’t shake him up enough for Lee to go in for the kill. My opinion: Lee via TKO 10.
JAKE COLLINS is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in London and lives in Essex. Read more of his sports betting commentary in Jake’s blog or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.