Lee-Saunders for the WBO title nearly confirmed


UK promoter Frank Warren has revealed that plans have been set in motion for the WBO World middleweight champion Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 KO’s) to defend against his mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders (21-0, 11 KO’s) on September 5th in London, UK.

Speaking to iFL TV Warren said the proposed date should be confirmed soon and that he will be looking for a suitable outdoor arena in which to stage the bout.

“Yeah I think it deserves that, it’s a big fight. It’s a great fight. I mean, you look at Andy Lee and what he has done over the last few years. It’s marvellous what he’s done when you think he’s gone into every fight as the underdog and the old equaliser has taken everybody out.”

Lee’s last three fights have seen him claw back from severe deficits and emerge with the upper hand. He went down heavily in the first round against John Jackson in June last year and was under intense pressure in the fifth round when he pulled out a counter right hook that left his pursuer face down inhaling the canvas.

Six months later he was matched against the undefeated Russian Matt Korobov for the vacant WBO belt and was behind on points in a close contest until another right hook turned the tide for him.

He followed up with a sustained barrage that forced the referee to step between them, ending the contest in his favour.

His last fight finished in a draw against Peter Quillin, who vacated the belt Lee claimed against Korobov.

Again, he was down in the first and made the trip again in the third, but rallied back in a very tetchy affair to score his own knockdown in the seventh; a crucial contributor to being able to hold on to his belt as the judges could not separate them at the final bell.

Lee is on the best run of his career and looks to continue in the same vein against a young, undefeated southpaw who has been out of action since handing Chris Eubank Jr. his first pro defeat last November.

Saunders obtained the mandatory spot for Lee’s belt with that win but was given step aside money by Quillin’s representatives to allow the American ahead in the queue.

Now, his time has finally come around and instead of traveling to the States as the away fighter, he will likely get to fight close to home in front of a packed stadium of fans.

It looks like he made the right decision, and he will prepare for his first world title shot with a warm-up against an as yet unnamed opponent at the Velodrome in Manchester on July 11th(Boxrec.com). The plan is to shake off the cobwebs as well as a calf injury Warren says he picked up six weeks ago.

Lee is from Limerick in Ireland but spent a good chunk of his childhood in London, and Saunders’ accent indicates he is based somewhere near the capital

It will build into a significant enough event to warrant the hiring and booking of a huge venue. Then it is all up to the fighters to put on a good show.