It seems as though Andy Lee’s fast approaching WBO middleweight title defence against Billy Joe Saunders has Steve Collins in a nostalgic mood, as the Irish great claimed that the bout puts him in mind of “the good old days in the division”
It also got him reminiscing about his own storied career.
The Dublin native recently told BoxingScene that he see’s parallels between the massive Manchester showdown and his 1994 bout with Chris Pyatt in Sheffield, which was for the very same title. Though Collins’ most famous fights were against Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn – both of whom he beat twice – it was the victory over Pyatt that set him on his way to bigger things.
According to Collins the win was “like a key to the super-fights, to the Eubanks and Benns”.
“That fight with Pyatt was absolutely crucial for me to win otherwise those fights wouldn’t have happened”, said Collins.“If I’d have lost he’d have gone on and fought Eubank and Benn, and I’d have been out of the picture. That’s pretty much how Lee and Saunders can look at it, it opens up even more big fights for the winner”.
Indeed Collins is correct. While his win over the hard-hitting Pyatt launched him into fights that would define an era in Irish and British boxing, the winner of Lee vs Saunders will have a host of options awaiting them in their next outing.
“Obviously [Gennady]Golovkin is king right now, and we haven’t seen the likes of him for a long, long time, he’s the best right now”, said “The Celtic Warrior”. “There are great fighters like [Miguel]Cotto and [Saul]Alvarez, so the winner of Lee and Saunders is going to have a field day”.
“The current 160lb division is a very exciting place and it’s one of the best in boxing right now”.
Fights with any of those three would lead to big paydays for either Lee or Saunders, and there is a real possibility that whoever comes through the pre-Christmas tear-up will step forward into a unification bout with one of the division’s biggest names.
Golovkin and his team have mentioned on several occasions that if the winner of Cotto vs Alvarez doesn’t come to the negotiating table, they will look towards the Lee vs Saunders victor. What’s more, if the winner of the November 21st WBC title fight really does intend to avoid Golovkin, they may also seek out Lee or Saunders as an alternative.
In other words, whomever comes away from the Manchester Arena on December 19th with that WBO belt will be in a marvellous position from which to negotiate.
Regarding the result of the fight, Collins sat on the fence somewhat.
“It has the potential to be a great, great fight. Both men have the ability to win. If it goes the distance Saunders can win, but Lee can win by stoppage. Whatever, it’s going to be exciting”.
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