Today saw the London presser to promote the historic contest between the two southpaws – which is already developing into the classic boxer v puncher narrative – and will see two men of traveller origins contesting a version of the world title for the very first time.
Talking about what the fight means to him, unbeaten former Olympian Saunders, said;
“For me it’s about walking away with that belt. I mean, we’re from the travelling community so it’s a big, big fight. He’s the first traveller to ever win a world title, I’m the first to win a British title outright. There’s a lot of talk about the fight in our community, but I think it’s not only for our community but the rest of the fans as well.”
“The belt’s on the line here, and how much bigger does it get in boxing than being world champion? Every fight you want to win for bragging rights – just because we’re two travellers – but it adds more spice to it.”
Lee, a former student of legendary Kronk trainer Manny Steward, agrees that one of the main things at stake on the night is personal pride – and pride within their community;
“We are very much men’s men and we can’t let anyone beat us, but both being travellers it will mean more. We have to face this fight in our own communities, win or lose.
“Whoever wins will be hailed as a hero, and the loser – we’re both good men, there’s no shame – but the loser will be known as the loser, and so there’s a lot on the line for us both personally.”
“But I have worked very long and hard to get here, and I don’t intend to give it (belt) up by any means.”
Frank Warren, who promotes Saunders, spoke to iFLtv afterwards to talk a little bit about the fight, and is confident that his man can cap off his domestic and European successes with the big one by dethroning Lee on the night.
Talking a little about the boxer/puncher narrative and Lee’s tendency to find a money shot even when behind on the cards, (as he did to against John Jackson and Matty Korobov), Warren was confident in Saunders’ and his ability to avoid it.
“If boxing was all about who punched harder, you wouldn’t need judges, and at the end of the day most fights end by decision – and Bill’s capable of ending a fight with a punch himself.”
“I’ve got enormous respect for Andy Lee, and over the last 12 months I think he’s fighter of the year. Every fight he’s gone into he’s been an underdog and come back and retained his belt.”
“Bill’s last five or six fights have all been (against) undefeated fighters and he’s beat all of them. I can’t think of too many boxers in the world today who have fought undefeated fighters consecutively as much as he has.”
“The best man will win on the night. Who knows it might be a very close fight and a rematch – but one thing’s for sure, the fans will get entertained.”
The fight will be broadcast by Boxnation in the UK