ANALYSIS: Five keys to victory for Andy Lee in his title defence against Billy Joe Saunders 7 years ago

ANALYSIS: Five keys to victory for Andy Lee in his title defence against Billy Joe Saunders

After all the postponing, this fight will be made.

On Saturday night, Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders are going to get their hands on each other, three months after the initial scheduled date


Lee officially defends his WBO middleweight title for the first time against mandatory challenger Saunders who will take to the ring as the bookies' favourite.

Both men have styles that are purpose-built to defeat the other, with Saunders  more reliant on high volume, outboxing his way to a decision victory while Lee definitely has more power in his hands and will be the more likely to win by stoppage.

Here are our five keys to victory for the Limerick fighter in this hotly anticipated battle of southpaws.

Lead hook


One of Lee's weapons that act as both a defensive and offensive tool simultaneously is his deceptive lead hook.

The way that the Limerick southpaw flicks out his jab, it's often difficult to tell whether the right punch is going to come straight or whether it's going to loop around and connect as a slapping hook to the ear.

Lee almost uses his right hand like a fencing sword to punish any sloppy entries from his opponents. It's disguised to the point that Saunders, at times, will not be able to tell whether it's coming straight up the pipe or will be taking the scenic route around his defensive guard.


It's not just a point-scoring strike, however, as Lee has finished fights with that very same punch over the years and, to our eyes, it's his most effective weapon.

Deep waters

It's no secret that Lee is something of a slow starter and conservation of energy is probably going to play a more important role than any combination on the night.

Saunders will, in all likelihood, win the first three or four rounds with his high-output, point-scoring boxing and it's on Lee and his corner to flick the switch at the right time.


Lee was hurt more early on by both Korobov and Quillin than Saunders will likely be able to muster but it's a matter of not letting the fight get away from him, à la Wladimir Klitschko.

Adam Booth must know when to pull the trigger on Lee and allow him to come on strong in the latter rounds with his power-punches to a presumably tiring Saunders.

Light on his feet

There's no doubt that it will be Saunders who leads this fight and that Lee will be in the counter-punching position.

At all costs, the champion must prevent Saunders from working on the inside where Lee's reach advantage will be nullified and where Saunders' short, ripping combinations can do their most damage.


Thus far, Lee's movement hasn't exactly looked picture perfect and he has a tendency to find himself off balance but he must remain a moving target for Saunders regardless.

Saunders' gameplan will be to double jab his way to the inside and work from there so Lee must rely on more than his head movement. He must use lateral movement to circle away from Saunders and because Saunders lacks any true, God-given power, the direction really doesn't matter.

Against a power-punching southpaw, Lee would be advised to circle to the left (away from the power left hand of his opponent) but Saunders isn't quite one of those and Lee can move in either direction to tire Saunders out by chasing him.

Embrace his awkwardness

He's the world champion but you're not going to be taught too many of Lee's techniques on your first day at boxing classes.

Like his cousin, Tyson Fury, Lee is far from a conservative fighter and his style can often bamboozle his opponents which is worth at least a round or two of settling-in time on the judges' scorecards.

More than most fighters, Lee throws from unusual angles and even his favoured right hook sometimes starts as a jab, as we discussed above.

But uppercuts, left crosses and even the square-on stance with which he throws some punches are all rather unorthodox and difficult to predict.

Rather than try to outbox Saunders, Lee ought to try to outfox him with a herky-jerky style that often takes a while to get used to and can frustrate opponents into lowering their guard or rushing in unprotected.

Don't be tempted into a brawl

Neither fighter will really want to turn this into a slugfest as neither are that kind of boxer but Lee likely has more to lose if Saturday night does descend into a wild exchange.

Lee's chin wouldn't fill you with confidence and he's been dropped quite often. While that's happened against heavier hitters than Saunders, it just seems too risky for the Limerick man to put himself into that position.


The funny thing is that Lee would probably come out on top in a punch-for-punch trade because he's got more power in his hands but the fact that Lee hit the canvas against both Quillin and Jackson doesn't fill us with hope of it taking the more solid shot.

He should use his significant height and reach advantage to pick Saunders apart from the outside and take as little punishment as possible.

He might be slight underdog but if Lee does manage to counter effectively from the outside, take a couple of rounds away from Saunders using his difficult-to-time techniques and comes on strong then we'd be more than a little bit confident of the WBO middleweight title returning to Limerick.