I was at a holiday party Monday, where a vet boxing writer who has been covering boxing since the 1960s said that Billy Joe Saunders, seen on Saturday night undressing David Lemiuex most thoroughly in Montreal and HBO, would beat GGG and Canelo.
Wow, I said. Really? I leaned in, checked to see if his eyes were focused, looked to see if he was swaying, having made a trip too many to the eggnog station. He seemed sober enough. This is a guy who doesn't always get it right, No one does, but he’s right more than he’s wrong. It got me thinking about just how good Saunders, a 28-year-old Brit Traveller, who owns a 26-0 mark, is. And will be...
Did people now huddled shoulder to shoulder on the Saunders bandwagon fall prey to an over-reaction to his apparent mastery on Saturday? Or, is the praise earned…and do we look at Saunders as an A-grade pugilist who was a B-grade guy but has upped his game because he’s rediscovered a love of craft?
I put it to trainer Abel Sanchez, who tutors Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1; age 35), how does he assess Saunders as a pugilist?
“I think he is a good boxer,” Sanchez said. “But you have to look at a career and previous fights. Three fights ago he could not or should not be in the same ring with GGG, now he beats a punching bag and someone with wishful thinking and a platform wants to anoint him the best ever. In GGG and Canelo, he is talking about two exceptional, proven middleweights, and not in just one fight.”
Yes, people sometimes tend to overhype or tear down too much off of a single showing. I will say, though, I was impressed by Saunders’ ring generalship and it feels like what he said about re-finding his fire and drive isn’t BS.
“Saunders looked mediocre against Artur Akavov (in December 2016) and now he fights a guy with two left feet, on a Sunday stroll, of course he had ring generalship!” Sanchez said.
“I am not saying he would not make for an interesting fight, maybe not the most appealing, not the most fan friendly jog-a-thon…and his demands will determine if he ever gets those elite fighter fights.”
Good, provocative stuff from Honest Abel, who has ridden many a rodeo circuit and knows how fans tend to rollercoaster their assessments on a fighter, based on the “what have you done for me lately” POV.
Your thoughts, friends?
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