Lee primed for solid middleweight title defence over Saunders
Lee Gormley | December 15, 2015
Andy Lee v Billy Joe Saunders
- WBO middleweight title fight
- Saturday, December 19th
- Scheduled for: 21:00 GMT
- Manchester Arena
- Live on Box Nation
Lee defends WBO title against Saunders
After an incredible year for boxing, WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee will hope to cap it off with a solid title defence over mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders at the Manchester Arena on Saturday night.
Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) is primed and ready for what will be the maiden defence of his WBO belt since claiming it from Matt Korobov in Las Vegas last year, with his most recent bout against Peter Quillin having been a non-title scrap after his challenger failed to make weight.
The Irishman still managed to earn a split decision draw against American Quillin in New York, and the 31-year-old is 11/4 with Coral to secure a points victory this time out against Saunders (22-0, 12 KOs) in front of a sell-out Manchester crowd.
Champion primed and ready for battle
Standing at a towering 6ft 2in, the rangy world champion holds the height advantage in this weekend’s Saunders showdown, and possesses all the qualities and experience needed to successfully retain his strap in front of an army of travelling Irish support.
“Preparations for the fight could not have been any better; I ’m at my best and physically and mentally prepared for this fight,” stated Lee.
“The fans are going to be in for a treat; I am in a good frame of mind, I am the Champion, I have the title and the pressure is all on Billy Joe to try and take it off me and that’s not going to happen.
“The talk and predictions about the fight will end when the first bell rings, I am primed for battle and have all the tools in my arsenal to win the fight and I intend to use them on Saturday night. My total focus is on winning and nothing else.”
Lee seeking further Irish sporting success
In a week which Ireland witnessed the crowning of a world champion in UFC’s Conor McGregor, Lee will look to continue in the same triumphant manner to make sure he can enjoy the Christmas period with the WBO belt still by his side, and he is 2/1 for a 25th career knockout victory.
Experienced trainer Adam Booth will have a switch of national loyalties this weekend. Having been in the corner for English fighter Chris Eubank Jr for his stoppage win over Irishman Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan, he will now be helping Ireland’s Lee overcome Hertfordshire contender Saunders, and he has immense confidence in his defending champion.
“We have prepared for the best of Billy Joe Saunders; he had a successful amateur career and is undefeated as a pro. However, Andy is a big middleweight and comes into the ring with vast experience as an amateur and professional,” claimed Booth.
“Andy has the skill set to beat Billy Joe; he can box on the outside, fight at close quarters and has the power to take a fighter out with either hand.”
Saunders says flawless record gives him edge
Challenger to Lee’s middleweight crown, Saunders has suggested that his undefeated record from 22 professional bouts will give him a mental edge going into the last major boxing event of the year, when he is 13/2 to stop his older opponent.
“I believe I have the advantage going into this fight knowing that I’ve never been beaten before,” declared Saunders.
“It definitely gives you confidence knowing that you have overcome everyone you’ve ever faced and I think it does have an affect on you when you lose.
“Some fighters say that losing doesn’t play a part but it has to because you go into a fight weaker mentally and sometimes physically.”
Clash of styles makes for epic encounter
Many believe Saunders is a more renowned pure boxer of these two competitors, while Lee carries the deadly punching power, but the 26-year-old is unconcerned by the Limerick man’s previous KO prowess.
“His power doesn’t concern me. I know he has a big reputation for knocking guys out but I’m not going to be one of them,” continued Saunders.
“In fact, I think he has to be concerned about my punching power because it’s something that we’ve been working on.
“This fight is going to be very fan-friendly because of our two styles and it’s going to be electric when we get into the ring.”
With a flawless record of 22-0, Saunders turned pro at just 18 after qualifying Beijing Olympics in 2008 and now stands on the cusp of achieving his world title dream, which he is 6/4 to do on points, and is adamant he will not fall short to Lee in Saturday’s main event.
“I’ve worked too hard and too long for this to let it slip me by. I’m ready for whatever is thrown at me on Saturday and will go through anything and everything to become champion,” added Saunders.
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Coral’s top tip: Andy Lee is renowned for his KO talents, but in this close contest against Billy Joe Saunders, back the Irishman to secure a points win at 11/4.