This Saturday sees a mouthwatering world middleweight title bout between champion Andy Lee and mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders at the Manchester Arena in Manchester. It is an historic fight within the boxing community as it marks the first time ever in which two travellers have met for a professional world title.
Irishman Lee (34-2-1 24KO’s) is the slight favourite for the fight as he looks to continue an incredible period in his career. The 31 year old defeated Matt Korobov 12 months to clinch the WBO strap in dramatic fashion. A scintillating hook from nowhere ensured the proud middleweight won his first world championship under the bright Vegas lights.
His first defence of the belt came against Peter Quillin in April earlier this year where both men hit the canvas before battling to a tight split draw decision. As a result, champion Andy Lee kept hold of his crown which set up a domestic clash with Billy Joe Saunders.
Saunders, unbeaten in 22 professional contests, will enter the fight as the home fighter. The Manchester Arena is not far from where he lives which will give the 26 year old an extra incentive to prevail as the new world champion.
He is renowned for his slick boxing skills and superb movement. Against Chris Eubank Jr in 2014, Saunders showcased a good stamina and ability to absorb shots. His elusive southpaw style makes him difficult to hit – which ultimately frustrates those in the opposite corner.
The Hatfield-based fighter also boasts a good boxing IQ, backed up by his knowledgable trainer Jimmy Tibbs. He will know the threats Andy Lee possesses and will do his best to avoid such situations.
Lee, trained by Adam Booth, has frightening one punch power. Recent bouts with Quillin, Korobov and Jackson have shown how the Irishman can produce a fight-winning punch from the most incredible positions. It’s no secret that Andy will most likely have to stop Saunders if he wants to leave Manchester with his WBO title.
However, Billy Joe’s movement may just prevent such a scenario. His brilliant boxing skills and solid chin will stand him in good stead as he seeks to become Britain’s latest world champion.
Recommendation: Saunders WIN via Decision or Technial Decision 6/4 (Bet365)