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Three reasons Billy Joe Saunders could be the man to end Gennady Golovkin’s reign

Could Britain’s in-form Billy Joe Saunders be the man to end Gennady Golovkin’s reign of dominance?

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Gennady Golovkin (Wikimedia Commons)

With the news that Golovkin-Alvarez II is off, fight fans have been left asking who, if indeed anyone, will be the man to end GGG’s reign at the top of middleweight boxing. At 35 years old, the Kazakhstan-born fighter stands with a record of 37 wins with just one draw and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Canelo inflicted that lone draw on GGG’s impressive CV, but a recent anti-doping scandal has left the Mexican’s fighting future in doubt, leaving a chasm at the top of the weight class. One of the best-loved divisions in boxing is in danger of becoming a one-horse race, similar to the Klitschko years of dominance at heavyweight.

With Canelo out of the picture – at least in the short term – England’s Billy Joe Saunders looks perfectly placed to be the next man to step up and test the all-conquering Kazakh.

Here are three reasons fans may look to back BJS at the bookies to beat Golovkin…

Lemieux performance shows he’s back to his best

Saunders suffered a slow couple of years, taking 12 months off after the Andy Lee win before returning with a below-par performance against Artur Akakov in December 2016. On the back of that showing, a split with long-time trainer Jimmy Tibbs and more time away from the sport piling on weight many thought Billy Joe had become nothing but hype.

We were reminded of just how good he is when strolling to a win over hard-hitting Canadian David Lemieux, mocking the respected opponent in front of his own fans on the way to a wide points decision. To date that was Saunders at his best, demonstrating superior ring craft, lightning quick hands and punch power.

Lemieux struggled to lay a glove on the champion, who won many new fans that night and deservedly enters his fight with Martin Murray an overwhelming 1/20 favourite in the betting boxing odds.

An undefeated world champion

Time away from the game and the amount of weight put on during that absence hangs over Saunders, but people shouldn’t be quick to forget he is a world champion – holding the WBO title – and boasts an undefeated record, currently standing at 26-0-0 with 12 KOs.

Billy Joe is a talented boxer, well-schooled in the art of hit and don’t be hit. Boxing and moving didn’t do Kell Brook any favours against Golovkin but he was a blown-up welterweight; his countryman is a natural in the division with a lot more behind his shots. We saw at times during Golovkin – Alvarez that GGG can be out-boxed. If BJS and GGG were to meet in a ring the favourite would become very friendly with Saunders’ jab.

Both men want the fight

Billy Joe has made no secret of his desire to share a bout with the most feared fighter in modern boxing, telling members of the press he wants to test himself against the best and Golovkin sets the bar. Directly after his win over Lemieux, Saunders could be heard calling on the Kazakh fighter from the ropes. He meant it, too.

The fact the Englishman holds a recognised form of the world title ensures he has Golovkin’s attention with the 35-year-old making it known he’s eager to add the WBO strap to his collection. There’s only one way to achieve that and it’s through the fighting pride of Great Britain.

Freelance sports writer and MMA reporter with 19 years’ experience in the UK national media. News Editor: ONE Championship. UFC/MMA Reporter: BBC Three. International MMA Reporter: The Fight Nation. Contributor: MMAjunkie.

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