By Jake Donovan
The final lap of a marathon of top middleweight fights takes place this upcoming Saturday, with Andy Lee due to defend his alphabet title versus unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders. The bout figures to draw a big crowd at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England and has already caught the attention of at least one other divisional peer.
“I’m excited for the winner of Lee vs. Saunders,” said Daniel Jacobs, barely a week removed from his 85-second stoppage win over Peter Quillin in his home borough of Brooklyn, New York.
Jacobs holds a secondary middleweight title, but gained instant recognition as one of the division’s top players on the heels of a career-best win earlier this month. His feat came two weeks after Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez outpointed Miguel Cotto to claim the World middleweight crown in late November, all of which followed Gennady Golovkin’s one-sided destruction of David Lemieux in their middleweight title unification bout in October.
Ironically, the Lee-Saunders clash was supposed to be the first of the lot. However, back-to-back postponements now have the bout closing a nine-week stretch of significant middleweight action. The bout – which serves as Lee’s second title defense and Saunders’ first career title shot – will air live in primetime on BoxNation in the United Kingdom and on a special Saturday afternoon edition of Showtime Boxing International in the United States.
Showtime also aired Jacobs’ win over Quillin, with its snatching stateside TV rights for Lee-Saunders hardly a coincidence. Given his promotional affiliation, Jacobs is holding out hope for a Lee victory.
“I’m rooting for Andy Lee because I think that’s a bigger fight for me,” Jacobs claims, though politically it would be the easiest fight to make. Doing something in the U.S. between the two of us would make a lot of sense. He has a huge following here in New York, just like me obviously. It would be a classic showdown that Brooklyn would appreciate.”
Such an outcome would pave the way for his first shot at a full title, as Lee (34-2-1, 24KOs) is promoted by Lou DiBella, who – by appointment from the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) movement - has represented Jacobs, a PBC fighter, in his past two fights.
“May the best man win between the two of them, but if Andy wins I think it would be very interesting for both of us,” states Jacobs.
This weekend’s challenger urges the Brooklyn native to wait until after this weekend before promoting his next fight.
“Full respect to Jacobs for winning his fight against Quillin in such sensational style,” Saunders (22-0, 12KOs) said of Jacobs’ recent feat. “I did predict beforehand that Quillin would beat him on points and I called that one wrong when he did him in a round. I also said that I’d be too fast for both him and Quillin and I still say that would be the case.
“So he’s tipping Andy Lee in this one? For the boxing trade and public it is a genuine 50-50 fight and a hard one to call, but I know in my mind what I’m going to do in the fight and win the world title. We’ll see what happens in just under one week’s time when me and Lee clash, but there’s only one winner and that’s me. If Jacobs is getting excited at the thought of him against Lee then I’m going to have to crush that dream for him.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox