Frank Warren Talks Andy Lee vs Billy Joe Saunders

Veteran British promoter Frank Warren has today spoken to iFL tv’s Kugan Cassius in the aftermath of Saturday’s draw between Andy Lee and Peter Quillin regarding his fighter, former Olympian and undefeated current British, European and Commonwealth middleweight champion, Hatfield’s Billy Joe Saunders. (21-0, 11ko)

WBO 160lb mandatory challenger Saunders was always due to face the winner of Lee-Quillin yet after the somewhat unique situation of the belt staying with Lee (W or L) as soon as Quillin failed to make weight, the fans knew before the fight that win or lose Andy Lee vs Saunders would be a world title fight in Britain or Ireland at some stage in the summer. The fact that the entertaining fight between Lee and Quillin ended up a draw became something of a moot point.

From the comments he made today, it is clear that Warren wants to get this fight on as quickly as possible and it’s obvious to me why, as it’s the biggest domestic fight of the summer bar none. I call it all-British and domestic as despite his Irish connections, Lee was born in London and speaks with an English accent, so allow me that description if you are a nit-picker!!

The only bigger all-Brit fight of the summer would have been Brook v Khan, and we all know what’s happening, or not happening, there!

Warren said;

“We will get together with (Lee’s trainer Adam Booth) when he gets back from the States and we’ll make it happen. The WBO will be writing to all parties today to say we can get it on as quickly as possible.”

Already I’m reading on social media that Saunders will be a heavy underdog going into the fight, and whilst I’m tempted to agree with part of the assertion, particularly because of levels of opposition faced, I’d remove the word “heavy” from the equation. Saunders has walked into underdog situations before and also into big pressure fights, especially against Eubank Jr (19-1,14ko’s)

Cassius quizzed Warren on the possibility of doing the Eubank rematch first but Frank was clear in stating that Billy Joe Saunders wished to now enforce his mandatory and go for Lee rather than face his bitter rival for a second time just yet.

“The Eubank fight is probably the bigger money fight for him (Saunders) but he’s always fancied beating Andy Lee and after Saturday maybe he fancies that task a little bit more.”

Saunders has been the mandatory for a while now and was originally scheduled to appear on the Lee v Quillin undercard for a “showcase” US debut as part of the £100,000 “step-aside” deal that allowed Quillin to fight Lee first anyway.

Sadly, injury ruined those plans and he is now scheduled to appear on a May 9th card at Wembley Arena in London. It will certainly be against a “tick-over” caliber of opponent who is TBA, before the Lee fight is finalised later on in the summer. Eubank Jr will also appear on the Wembley card vs Australian Les Sherrington (35-7,19ko) in a defence of his new WBA interim 160lb title. As an early tip, I would expect him to stop the veteran who has never boxed outside of Australia before, is 32 years old and has been knocked out six times.

Its almost certain that win or lose against Lee, the next fight for Billy Joe Saunders will be the rematch with Eubank Jr. The fight with Lee will be a history making occasion in that it will be the first time two men of traveller/gypsy heritage have contested a version of the world title. Should Billy Joe prevail then it will most certainly enhance the hype surrounding the Eubank fight and give Saunders even more bragging rights over the Brighton fighter, who is desperate to avenge the loss from their first encounter.

Just as a sideline, I think everyone would agree, especially in Britain that Andy Lee vs Chris Eubank Jr is another fight that could offer us bucket loads in terms of entertainment.

Yet Lee’s next defence is 100% against Billy Joe Saunders. For me it really is a pick ’em. Lee has his flaws as we have seen a lot recently. He was behind and down against John Jackson before finding the money punch. Korobov was on top against him also until that stunning shot in the 6th that led to the finish. And we all saw what happened with Quillin. Lee evidenced such great heart and the ability to dig-deep that is fast becoming a trade-mark and he poses a threat to any fighter bar the obvious one at 160lb! Even there you can almost imagine the like able fighter somehow pulling off a stunning upset! Well, maybe not, but you get the idea!

Saunders, if he trains right, as he will – (it’s his world title fight), then he has the boxing skill and ring nous to trouble Andy Lee in my opinion. Yes, it’s possible he could fade late and Lee could grow more dangerous and find the shot to finish it. Yet it’s not a credible assertion to call Saunders a heavy underdog as I mentioned earlier. To use that word does the man an injustice.

This summer will see a cracking, historic fight that the better man will win on the night. The options for both fighters afterwards, particularly from a British perspective are mouth watering, especially when you throw a name like Martin Murray into the mix. There’s a lot to come at 160lb for us Brits to enjoy. Lets look forward to the prospect of some cracking fights in the middleweight division in the near future.

As always, thanks for reading. Twitter @undilutedpoison