It is understood that negotiations could be underway for a potential world middleweight title unification match between Gennady Golovkin and Billy Joe Saunders in 2016, as reported by a number of outlets in recent days. A potential fight could be an intriguing one, and one that could present more difficulty for Gennady Golovkin than some people might think.
Prior to his recent title win over Andy Lee, I said going into the fight that if Saunders got off to a good start and stuck to his boxing ability throughout the fight, that it could be a frustrating and long night for Andy Lee.
And indeed it was, Saunders won the tactical exchange.
Anyone with the boxing IQ, head movement, quick footwork, and lightning fast hands of someone like Billy Joe, on his night, would give any middleweight fits. He’s a very hard man to beat, plain and simple, and in many ways for me, personifies the old saying: “A good boxer beats a good fighter.”
He’s a pure boxer, who also has buckets of heart and grit when needed, too.
If a Gennady Golovkin fight did come to fruition, here’s five reasons why I think it would certainly be an interesting fight, and why Billy Joe could potentially have the style to give Golovkin his hardest, if not his most tricky and challenging test, thus far.
As Muhammad Ali once famously said, “The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” Billy Joe Saunders has shown tremendous head movement in his career and particularly in his world title win against Andy Lee.
Golovkin is a big hitter, no doubt, but if he were to hit thin air a few times in the opening rounds, even ‘GGG’ is human, and this may dishearten him – just ever so slightly.
I think in Billy’s heart of hearts he knows he probably wouldn’t knock Golovkin out and would be probably look to employ a strategy in and around winning a points decision over the duration.
This could play in to his hands beautifully though, as some of his combination work he’s used over his career (although not really in the Andy Lee win) could look very good in the judge’s eyes, where he has a real ability to land clean shots at a rapid rate, clear and visible to all when he gets going.
Golovkin has killer footwork, but I’m not sure he’s ever faced a man with the footwork of Billy Joe, a fighter who can move side to side, pivot, and get in and out of range as fast and efficiently as any.
His sense of positioning relative to this footwork is also excellent, with an almost instinctive understanding of where he needs to be range-wise, to either land his shots and get out of harms way, or to evade something coming his way.
It would be a fascinating tactical battle of the feet in it’s own right, this fight.
Golovkin is by no means a slow fighter but for pure hand speed you’d have to give the edge to Billy Joe. Of course the flip side to that coin is Golovkin hits much harder, but if he isn’t landing on the target what would it matter?
Billy Joe at many points in his world title win over Andy Lee beat Lee to the punch with his lightning fast hands, and its an invaluable attribute that he could use in a potential Golovkin fight, where he might be able to employ similar raiding tactics, in and out.
Lack of Fear
Billy Joe has only just won the world title and many people in boxing will tell you a fighter can often go to a new level after winning a world title. His confidence will be sky high and would have no reason in his own mind to think he couldn’t get in there and become the first man to beat Golovkin.
It could be argued that some of Golovkin’s opponents have been beaten before they even stepped into the ring, such is the mental edge he enjoys because of his ferocious knockout record.
Billy Joe would likely hold no fear for Gennady.
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