Billy Joe Saunders dethroned WBO Middleweight World Champion Andy Lee with a 12-round majority decision Saturday on SHOWTIME BOXING INTERNATIONAL from Manchester, England.
The fight, which was scored 115-111, 114-112 and 113-113, will re-air tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on SHO EXTREME.
In a matchup of tactical southpaws, an explosive third round from Saunders (23-0, 12 KOs) was the difference. The British challenger floored Lee twice – first with a big right hook and again with a counter right just 30 seconds later – and a dazed Lee somehow survived the 10-7 round.
The Irish Lee (34-3-1, 24 KOs) fought his way back and was the more aggressive fighter in the championship rounds, but it wasn’t enough to make up for a slow start and the two knockdowns.
With the win, Saunders became the 12th current British world champion.
“I’m world champion,” Saunders said. “I beat a good champion today, a good sturdy champion. I used his power against him. When I was boxing he got a little bit careless and dropped his lead hand and I caught him with the hook.
“I’m not going to start running my mouth, but it was a good shot. With someone as fast as me you have to keep your hands up. I’m not the biggest puncher in the world, but I showed you there that I can punch.”
WBA Middleweight World Champion Daniel Jacobs, fresh off a first round knockout of Peter Quillin two weeks ago on SHOWTIME, was a guest analyst on Saturday from New York.
“I thought he was going to be a big brawler, I thought he had better assets,” Jacobs said of Lee. “He didn’t do enough for me. He was too complacent and after the knockdown you didn’t see that sense of urgency that a fighter has to have on the comeback trail.
“All credit due to Billy Joe, but it wasn’t an impressive victory.”
After watching the fight, Jacobs wasn’t ready to commit to a unification showdown in 2016 with the winner.
“We’ll do whatever makes sense,” Jacobs said. “I think it’s time to sit-down and figure what makes sense. Obviously it’s a good time to be a middleweight champion.”