The many months of waiting are now finally over. The much clamored for Andy Lee vs Billy Joe Saunders WBO middleweight title collision is upon us. Here’s a few quick components that might need to come in to play for either guy to get the ‘W’.
Andy Lee vs Billy Joe Saunders – As ’50-50′ As It Gets
The time for talking is now well and truly over as they say, and with both men looking in supreme condition at yesterday’s weigh-ins, some explosive boxing fireworks look set to go off at the Manchester Arena.
Fans, pundits, bookmakers and people within the fight game alike, are all torn on who they think will emerge the winner tonight, such is the closeness of the encounter.
There’s different ways either guy could win, but it will probably come down to who execute’s their game plan best. Lets take a quick look at what both fighters might need to do to emerge victorious.
Don’t get off to a slow start: Andy Lee has been a notoriously slow starter in recent times but on the flip side, he’s a man who gets stronger as a fight progresses – and comes on strong in the championship rounds. It has been said that Billy Joe Sauders can tire sometimes down the stretch, in the later rounds, so if Lee gets off to a good start and grows into the fight, it could be a tough day at the office for Saunders.
Educated pressure: Some people are billing the bout as Lee’s power vs Saunders’s boxing ability, which I think is a tad bit harsh to Andy. Like Saunders, he comes from tremendous amateur stock and in furthermore, is a more seasoned pro, in my view. If he can find his range on the outside and establish his jab early on, I can see him gradually being able to break Saunders up – but he’ll need to get off to a good start.
Establish physical presence and use reach: Lee is the taller man and probably the physically stronger man of the two, with the bigger bang in his shot, unquestionably. If the Irishman takes the center of the ring right from the opening bell and dictates the pace early on, utilizing his superior physical attributes and slightly superior reach effectively, it could be curtains for Saunders.
Possible secret weapon: Lee is an Adam Booth trained pupil and something that struck me about another Booth trained fight last week, Chris Eubank Jr, that might (or may not) have some bearing on tonight. Like Saunders, Eubank Jr’s opponent last week (another Irishman as it happens) Spike O’Sullivan also gave away some height and reach to his larger foe, Chris Eubank Jr. A weapon that can prove effective sometimes for a bigger man to use on a smaller man is the uppercut, and Eubank Jr. exhibited some sickening uppercuts to optimal affect last week on O’Sullivan. Don’t be surprised if Booth has been working on the uppercut with Andy.
Billy Joe Saunders
Start fast: I think Billy Joe will know in his heart of hearts he won’t be able to knock Andy Lee out, nor stop him inside the distance for that matter, his best chance will surely be to outbox him. Lee has been known to get off to a slow start in the past, and if Billy Joe comes out of the blocks firing on all cylinders, he could rack up a lot of scoring points early doors, and make it a very night’s work for the Irishman.
Avoid moving to the left where possible: With both of these pugilists been southpaws, the usual conventional weapon to watch out for would be the back hand (left hand) but in Andy Lee’s case, his most devastating asset in recent times has been the right hook. Billy Joe will need to be aware of this throughout, and not step in too zealous to his left or circle to his left too much, ideally, in order to avoid walking onto one or two of these genuinely ‘light-out’ blows.
In and out movement: Although he’ll be giving away a bit in power, size and reach, there could be an argument that says Billy Joe perhaps possesses the slightly quicker feet of the two. If he can get off to a good start and keep up some sharp, in and out-raiding type attacks over the course of the fight, over a good pace, there’s certainly a chance he could outpoint Lee over the duration, if the Limerick native is not at his very best.
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