Billy Joe Saunders concedes that middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin is undoubtedly the number one pound for pound star in boxing but is confident that he is the next best in the 160lb division.
While Golovkin (34-0, 31KO recently added the IBF world title to his WBA belt – by making easy work of Canada’s David Lemieux – Saunders, also undefeated, will finally get his crack at a middleweight world title as he prepares to face Andy Lee for the WBO version.
“I’m happy my fight with Lee is going ahead before the end of the year, otherwise it would have probably been pushed back to February or March time. Fighting in December will be better than me sitting around waiting for my chance after Christmas,” Saunders exclusively told World Boxing News.
“I’m really confident of beating Lee, I’ve got a good chin, can take a punch and I can box. Once I’m champion I’m looking to make some big unification fights. I would love the winner of Canelo vs Cotto.
“Golovkin is the number one in the world for me. He’s a tremendous talent and superbly skilled. His punch power’s phenomenal, his distance, everything is just done perfectly. He won’t be as big as Floyd because he’s not American – There will only ever be one Floyd – but he will still be a huge name,” he added.
If Saunders (22-0, 12KO) wins the WBO title in December, he acknowledges that he eventually may have to face Golovkin in a unification bout.
He said: “I’ve always rated Golovkin and I’ve always said that he is a true champion. For me, that fight is 18 months down the line. Realistically, if I win a world title, I won’t be giving him a shot straight away.
“Please God I get the WBO belt, I won’t duck anyone however. If the money is right to go over to New York and fight him, I would love to, and I would go in to the ring thinking and knowing I can beat him.”
Another big December clash in the middleweight division will see New York boxers Peter Quillin and Daniel Jacobs face off for the regular WBA world title.
“It’s another WBA belt, so it’s not a full world title and it’s not good for the division. It should still be a pretty good fight between two good boxers,” Saunders added.
“I’ve never been one to talk out of terms, but take GGG out of the equation and no one will beat me. The Americans are slow, powerful but slow – I’d have a field day in the ring with them. Then Lemieux got shown up and you just need to use your jab against him, so who else is there.”
Matt Horan is a staff writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123