If Tyson Fury has claimed the crown of “Gypsy King” then surely Saturday night’s world title fight between travellers Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders is to find out who is British Boxing’s “Gypsy Prince”.
The Manchester Arena plays host to the first ever world title fight between two travellers, a race of nomadic people with a rich and proud fighting tradition, which means that bragging rights are equally as important as the title on the line.
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The fight also comes at a time in which boxers are being scrutinised for what they say, now more than ever before, particularly those from travelling backgrounds.
Their sport and community has been lambasted by the mainstream media recently because these men refuse to conform to a politically correct society; they stand by their own personal beliefs, whether right or wrong and are honest with themselves and those around them – a lot more than can be said for some of today’s politicians and journalists.
It is perhaps a good job then that WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee isn’t much of a talker. He told iFL TV: “There’s too much talking, I don’t talk anyway, I’m not a big talker. Let’s get the fight on.”
And at the press conference, the ever-controversial Billy Joe Saunders, who wouldn’t be so controversial if certain reporters didn’t take his words out of context, said: “We know what that title will bring out of me; an extra twenty or thirty per cent.”
Thank you all for your Messages God bless speak after I win the WBO #AndNEW
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) December 18, 2015
Saunders will need every advantage he can get if he is to hold his own on the world stage; a platform Lee has been on for some years now. “Irish” has by far the better names on his record having come up against in the likes of Peter Quillin, Matt Korobov and Cesar Chaves Jr.
Lee, 31, is by no means chinny but has been downed in the first round, in two of his last three fights. That may show signs of him ageing or it may show the signs that he is a true champion because he got back up on both occasions and went on to win and draw respectively, giving him a record of 34-2-1.
Saunders, 26, remains unbeaten at 22-0 albeit he hasn’t fought the same quality opposition but the Englishman has beaten five undefeated fighters, including Chris Eubank Jr. so does have some pedigree.
Doubts remain over Saunders’ stamina and concentration though, having looked flat in last half of his fight with Eubank Jr. That being said, he was still able to get the win by remaining out of range, something he will have to do if he stands a chance of beating the powerful Lee.
Lee has shown that he is capable of knocking opponents clean out at any point during a fight, something Saunders will have to be wary of even if he is leading on points going into the championship rounds.
Many find this fight simply too close to call, and as a result there are some fantastic odds on offer from a ange of leading high street bookmakers. A Lee victory is available at 10/11 wile a Saunders win is also 10/11. The draw has been priced at 20/1.– But why go down to the bookies in person when you can simply bookmark www.bookies.com
Interestingly, there is some disparity between the two fighters mentally. Despite both believing they will win on Saturday, Saunders is on record saying he does not want to fight Gennady Golovkin, at least not yet. Whereas Lee was rumoured to have verbally agreed a fight with GGG which suggests either a gulf in self-confidence or ego between the two Brits, which could be the deciding factor in the fight.
The fight has been long in the making: Read more
Saunders stepping aside months ago for Lee to face Quillin, a change in venue and an injury delay due to a cut on Saunders’ eye. Now the wait is finally over, the talking done and the victor of Saturday’s fight looking forward to enjoying all the royalties that come with being a prince. May the best man win.