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 Adonis Stevenson Admits: I Need To Be More Active Chavez Sr. Angry, Trainer Shakes Head at Omar Chavez Defeat Adonis Stevenson To Badou Jack: Rematch Must Be in Canada! Jack: I Wasn't Hitting Stevenson Low; He Had His Cup Really High Stevenson's Promoter Impressed With Badou Jack's Performance Joseph Diaz Has No Excuses: Gary Russell a Tremendous Fighter Gary Russell vs. Joseph Diaz - CompuBox Punch Stats Diego Magdaleno Grabs Win in Mexico, Hopes For Title Shot Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack - CompuBox Punch Stats Jack: Let's Do the Stevenson Rematch in Vegas, Sweden or the UK Tyson Fury Very Eager To Do a Job on Sefer Seferi on June 9 Photos: Eleider Alvarez Putting in Work For Sergey Kovalev Pacquiao is Pleased: Buboy Adapted The Style of Freddie Roach Photos: Gary Russell Shows His Class To Defeat Joseph Diaz Photos: Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack - MONSTER Fight Gallery Warrington: Frampton in August is Too Soon, I Need More Time Jack Catterall: I Want The Winner of Flanagan vs. Hooker Ohara Davies Warms Up For Showdown With Josh Leather Video: Floyd Mayweather Reacts To The Stevenson-Jack Draw Adonis Stevenson: I Felt I Won, I Can Give Badou Jack a Rematch Video: Badou Jack Reacts To Draw Verdict With Adonis Stevenson Video: Adonis Stevenson Reacts To Draw Verdict With Jack Badou Jack: I Definitely Won, Maybe They Don't Like Mayweather Hekkie Budler Stuns Ryoichi Taguchi To Capture IBF, WBA Belts Mugicha Nakagawa Stops Ricky Manufoe To Win WBA Regional Boschiero Decisions Farouk Kourbanov For The EU Title in Italy Subriel Matias Breaks Down, Stops Adrian Estrella Jose Carlos Paz Shocks Omar Chavez With Unanimous Decision Adonis Stevenson, Badou Jack Battle To a Majority Draw Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Gary Russell Decisions a Game Joseph Diaz, Retains WBC Title Gary Russell vs. Joseph Diaz - LIVE BoxingScene Scorecard Adonis Stevenson-Badou Jack - CompuBox Historical Review Firat Arslan Grabs Quick Knockout Win, Returns on June 16 Jack: I Asked for This Fight; Nothing Stevenson Has Scares Me! Gary Russell vs. Joseph Diaz - CompuBox Historical Review Photos: Jerwin Ancajas, Jonas Sultan - Face To Face at Fan Event Gary Russell vs. Joseph Diaz - LIVE Results From Maryland Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack - Stats & Stakes Josh Warrington Shocks Lee Selby To Capture The IBF Title

Latest Active Forum Threads