The Monday After: Andy Lee-Billy Joe Saunders Review

By George Ogier

It’s that time of year when the number 12 takes on a larger significance than usual. The twelfth month, the start of the 12 days of Christmas and on Saturday night Billy Joe Saunders took a dozen rounds to become Britain’s twelfth world title holder.

As is becoming a rather unfortunate habit for me I backed the wrong horse and could not see past an Andy Lee victory. I was not the only one in that position though and not without good reason. Saunders had not fought anyone near Lee’s level and in truth had struggled against opposition he deemed to be less talented than himself.

Billy Joe has always had bags of ability but in the pros that doesn’t always manifest itself as it should, just ask Frankie Gavin. Fast hands, good footwork, but an apparent lack of power and a tendency to fade late on in fights had me wondering if Saunders would ever win the world title he told us was his destiny.

Over the course of 11 largely uneventful rounds punctuated by one crazy session Billy Joe fulfilled that destiny and in doing so dispelled at least one of my reservations. It was a bout in which the left hand carrying the most danger was thought to belong to Andy Lee. However, the Irishman found himself on the receiving end of a couple of punches he would have been proud to have thrown himself. On those two moments the fight was, in all probability won and lost.

From round three onwards Lee seemed understandably scared of getting taken out again which made him reluctant to throw a left hand in anger. In the opposite corner Saunders clearly switched back to a more economical style in a bid to steal rounds. The approach from Billy Joe was a reasonable tactic but the lack of urgency at times from Lee was baffling.

After Tyson Fury’s victory against Wladimir Klitschko I wondered if Klitschko had thrown away the fight as much as Fury had won it and I was left with a similar feeling on Saturday. It is often a very fine line between praising the victor and criticising the loser and it would be remiss of me not to salute the newest member of Britain’s world title holders club.

Billy Joe Saunders looked in the best condition of his career ahead of this fight. There was clearly a lot of mutual respect between both men but there was a determination about Saunders that I, and many others should have perhaps taken more seriously.

The biggest name on Saunders’ record to date was Chris Eubank Jr, a fighter nowhere near world level according to Billy Joe. Despite that the Hatfield man looked at ease in the ring, often beating Andy Lee to the punch and evading a lot of the champion’s work, particularly entering the championship rounds.

If there was to be one criticism of Saunders it would be that again he seemed to fade late on in the contest and that could be an issue going forward. Stamina is a huge part of any good boxer’s arsenal and against someone a little more dogged than Lee Billy Joe might well come unstuck. It’s no good having a Ferrari if it has a fuel leak and you can’t drive it more than 10 miles. For now, though let’s just celebrate another exceptionally talented British fighter becoming world champion.

The main support on Saturday involved another of our world title holders in the first defence of his belt as Liam Smith took on Jimmy Kelly. If I’m totally honest I didn’t know an awful lot about Kelly in the lead up to this contest and the pre-fight interview in the dressing room conducted with the Manchester man wearing glasses left me even more nonplussed.

However, those of us who didn’t know Kelly before certainly know him now. Tough and durable with decent hand speed, Jimmy proved to be a little more than the “Christmas wages” Smith had dismissively described his challenger as ahead of the fight. There wasn’t really a point in which Kelly had Smith in trouble but I saw enough from the challenger to be excited about seeing him in the domestic middleweight mix for 2016.

2015 has been a stellar year for British boxing and 2016 promises to be just as interesting. From Frampton vs. Quigg to the re-emergence of David Haye. The reign of Tyson Fury as the number one heavyweight on the planet and Anthony Joshua’s journey to dethrone him, fans in the UK are in for some real treats.

I’ve enjoyed the past 12 months enormously and I hope you have too. I would like to wish everyone reading this a happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. See you all in 2016!

George Ogier is part of Boxing Scene's UK team. Follow him on Twitter @george_ogier

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Boxing Goat on 12-21-2015

I had Lee winning the majority of the rounds and thought he deserved the decision. I know there was a couple of knock downs but I thought Lee won 8 out of 12 rds.

Comment by Box Up! on 12-21-2015

Terrible article. Why does BS put up with this sort of amateur rubbish?

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (2)
Top Headlines Juanma Joins Team of Jayson Velez, Hits Back at Orlando Cruz Antonio Orozco To Remain at 140, May Return in February Malignaggi: McGregor Should've Retired, Khabib Makes Him Quit! Billy Joe Saunders Handed Misconduct Charge By The BBBoC Yvan Mendy Will Go For The Knockout Against Luke Campbell Anthony Joshua: I Wanted To Show I Can Box Against Parker Golovkin Will Likely Rest, Evaluate Options For 2019 Arum: Spence Doesn't Want Crawford; We're Ready When He Is Canelo vs. Golovkin: CompuBox Stat Analysis of Both Fights Hearn: Povetkin Had Loads of PED Tests For Joshua Fight Darren Reay, Chad Ellis Added To Ritson-Pianeta Newcastle Card Photos: Matty Askin Putting in Work For Lawrence Okolie Clash Povetkin: Joshua is a Bigger Challenge Than 'Prime' Klitschko Petch CP Freshmart Looking to Improve to 48-0 on Friday Saunders: Canelo Win Was NO Robbery, Can't Really Cry Over It Leonard vs. Hearns, and 30 Years of Living The Dream Arum Shreds Canelo-GGG PPV: Time For HBO To Leave Boxing! Boxer Who Trained At Mayweather Gym Shot to Death Near Vegas Kovalev-Alvarez Rematch Could Head to Cowboys' Facility 2/2 De La Hoya Fires Back at Critics of Canelo's Win Over Golovkin Lara Ready To Go To 160: I Want Golovkin or Canelo Next! Photos: Miguel Berchelt, Miguel Roman - Go Face To Face Teofimo Lopez is Cleared for December 8th Return Mikey Garcia vs. Richard Commey Purse Bid on September 25 News: Mario Hernandez, Brandon Robinson, Danny Gonzalez Romero Duno Hopes To Secure Ryan Garcia or Jorge Linares David Lemieux 'Extremely Interested' In Fighting Canelo Next Andre Ward: Canelo Won Clearly, He Broke Golovkin Anthony Joshua: It's A Lot Of Pressure; I Can't Afford to Lose Skeete Vacates British Title, Corcoran and Garton To Contest Eddie Hearn Talks Mayweather-Pacquiao, Khan, Whyte, More Anthony Crolla vs. Daud Yordan Likely For Bellew-Usyk James DeGale To Return on Ortiz vs. Molina Card Ryota Murata vs. Rob Brant - Ticket Information Matty Askin Vows That Lawrence Okolie is Getting Knocked Out Sanchez: I Knew Canelo Would Fight That Way; Was Goaded Into It Chris Eubank Jr. vs. JJ McDonagh on Groves-Smith Card Carl Frampton: Josh Warrington Will Come To Have A Scrap DAZN Broadcast Team is Revealed: Ray Leonard, Kenny, More Golovkin: Canelo Didn't Do Anything Special; We Controlled Fight

Latest Active Forum Threads