By Jake Collins @MelancholyFolly
Whilst talks are still on-going, this unification match actually looks mildly likely to happen now.
Saunders is a proud fighting man and won’t want to lose face given how public these discussions have become. It seems they’ve knocked back the first offer which was rumoured to be around the mark of a couple of million, however those familiar to business dealings will be aware you never accept the first offer.
Is Saunders deserving of that amount of money? That’s for K2 promotions to decide. At 33 Golovkin needs these unifying fights to happen as soon as possible really and would probably be willing to lose some ground fiscally to make his mark historically. Saunders has said he’d take less of a pay cut if Golovkin came to the UK, which I personally think is quite a fair shout.
Whilst Golovkin does indeed hold the WBA Super and IBF belts (and the IBO, if you’re into that sort of thing), he wants the WBO belt more than Saunders wants Golovkin’s two belts. More to the point, it would probably be put on PPV and I think that would sell pretty well over here.
So how would we all see the fight going? As with literally anyone at 160, it’s hard to look past Golovkin as quite a comfortable favourite. Which is of no disrespect to Saunders at all really. In fact, he has been on record as saying he thinks Golovkin beats both himself and Eubank Jr in the same night. However, since that he now believes he would be able to beat Golovkin so let’s hope he can show that aptitude in the ring. Saunders is a very skilled boxer and has shown himself to be tough – both mentally and physically. Whilst not being a particular big puncher he has been able to hurt and put people on the canvas by landing shots they don’t see coming.
Andy Lee doesn’t hold the greatest chin in the world but he certainly wasn’t the boxer we expected to see on the floor at any point. He managed to negate Lee’s power by just boxing very smartly. He did the same with Eubank Jr too, although faced the same problem in both fights: his stamina. Saunders seems to gas out a little toward the end of fights. This has led to a lot of his fights becoming closer than they need to be. Wherever this is something that can be improved upon, I don’t know.
His strategy will be to try and box Golovkin, keeping him out of range thus preventing him from landing his big shots. As good as a boxer Saunders is, I just don’t think he’ll be able to do that.
Golovkin’s footwork is extremely good and no one has been able to stay away from him for long enough to not be stopped for quite some time now. Monroe Jr showed you can land on Golovkin with quick hand speed – which Saunders does posses – but it isn’t going to back him up for the whole fight, if at all. Getting beyond Golovkin’s jab if he elects to use it has itself shown to be difficult Lemieux was pretty much beat thanks to that weapon alone. The balance and timing of the jab prevented Lemieux from landing any of his trademark hooks regularly, which pretty much left him with a shield but no sword. Given the issues mentioned with Saunders’ stamina as well, I think we’d see an awful lot of that left hook to the body from the Golovkin, which was the first shot to get Murray down and destroyed Macklin’s ribs as well. When you’re tired, there’s no recovering from body shots like that.
That’s not to rule Saunders out completely. Every time his competition has stepped up in quality, so has he. I don’t see that anyone is going to be able to beat Golovkin in a war so I think it’ll take someone who can move and pot shot for 12 rounds whilst being able to take quite some punishment. If Saunders can maintain his work rate across 12 rounds and box faultlessly, then who knows? He’s a smart guy; he knows he won’t be able to hurt Golovkin. I don’t think anyone has actually.
On paper, I think Golovkin has too much for Saunders. Better ability, stronger, higher ring IQ and more tough. However, the beauty of boxing is that it isn’t records or stats getting into the ring – it’s two warriors aiming to paint their history upon a canvas….by