By Keith Idec
Daniel Jacobs hopes Billy Joe Saunders will return to North America for his next fight, this time to New York to face him.
Jacobs is likely to fight again April 28 at Barclays Center in his native Brooklyn and wants a shot at the British southpaw’s WBO middleweight title. Saunders’ willingness to travel to Quebec to defend his title against Montreal’s David Lemieux gives Jacobs and his handlers some confidence he’ll seriously consider defending his championship against Jacobs in Brooklyn.
“We’re definitely looking to fight Billy Joe Saunders next because Triple-G and Canelo most probably will have their rematch May 5th,” Keith Connolly, Jacobs’ manager, told BoxingScene.com. “So the guy that makes the most sense for Danny is Saunders. I’ll contact his people and see what their level of interest is. But I think that would be a huge fight in New York City for Danny.”
Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) would prefer to fight Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin, yet understands that they’re headed toward the middleweight championship rematch Connolly mentioned. The 30-year-old Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs) has an exclusive contract with HBO and Saunders just defeated Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs) in a bout HBO televised from Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada, thus that fight seems like at least a possibility.
The 28-year-old Saunders could, however, make an easier optional defense against a less imposing opponent than Jacobs because by beating Lemieux he fulfilled his mandatory obligation with the WBO.
“I can see him avoiding Danny because Danny is such high-risk and Saunders is looking to cash out in a Canelo or Triple-G fight,” Connolly said. “But to fight one of those guys, he should go through Danny first. Danny, in my eyes, is the best middleweight in the world. But in the eyes of a lot of people, he’s the third-best middleweight in the world.
“So it should be a mini-middleweight tournament, with Canelo and Triple-G in one bracket in the rematch in May, and Danny and Saunders in the other. And then the winners fight each other in September. That would be the logical and the most entertaining thing for fans at this point, to have some sort of a middleweight tournament.”
Saunders enhanced his status in boxing by beating Lemieux so easily. An athletic, intelligent Saunders used his stiff jab and terrific footwork to befuddle Lemieux, and fought a very disciplined defensive fight to soundly defeat the hard-hitting Lemieux (120-108, 118-110, 117-111).
“I thought Saunders proved that he’s one of the elite middleweights in the world,” Connolly said. “He had great stamina, great boxing ability. It was a total shutout. I couldn’t find one round to give to Lemieux and he proved that he belongs as one of the top five or six middleweights in the world. He was definitely a lot more impressive than I expected him to be.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.