Whenever an athlete scores a high-profile victory in the sports world, there is always sure to be a wave of public reaction and sometimes backlash.
This past weekend, on HBO, WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders delivered an emphatic performance in utterly outclassing former IBF champion David Lemieux in his hometown of Quebec, Canada. In a fight that was nearly even according to odds-makers heading in, Saunders found a way to dominate Lemieux, and even mock him at times, while in the ring.
With the victory, Saunders moved to 26-0 with 12 knockouts and called for a showdown with a man he has been going back and forth with in the press for a few years, lineal middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin.
It’s a fight that would be a treat to see, but with Golovkin likely headed towards a May rematch in Las Vegas with Mexican superstars and former world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, who he fought to a draw this past September, it would make sense for Saunders to look at other options.
And when looking at the middleweight landscape, nobody at the time seems more viable than former WBA champion Danny Jacobs. Just this past March, Jacobs gave Golovkin a great run for his money before losing a razor-thin unanimous decision in New York.
In that match, Jacobs showed tremendous guile, craft, boxing ability, and the mental fortitude that many of Golovkin’s previous opponents lacked. Jacobs returned to notch a dominant victory over contender Luis Arias last month, and his manager would love to see him tangle with Saunders.
“We’re definitely looking to fight Billy Joe Saunders next because [Golovkin] and Canelo most probably will have their rematch May 5th,” said Keith Connolly, who manages Jacobs, in a recent BoxingScene interview. “So the guy that makes the most sense for Danny is Saunders. I’ll contact his people and see what their level of interest is. But I think that would be a huge fight in New York City for Danny.”
Still, there is concern as to whether Saunders would have interest in such a fight at this time.
“I can see him avoiding Danny, because Danny is such a high-risk and Saunders is looking to cash out in a Canelo or [Golovkin] fight. But to fight on of those guys, he should go through Danny first. Danny, in my eyes, is the best middleweight in the world. But in the eyes of a lot of people, he’s the third best middleweight in the world.”
What might make the most sense would be somewhat of an elimination-style tournament, according to Connolly.
“So, it should be mini=middleweight tournament, with Canelo and [Golovkin] in one bracket in the rematch in May, and Danny and Saunders in the other,” Connolly added. “And then the winners fight each other in September. That would be the logical and most entertaining thing for fans at this point, to have some sort of middleweight tournament.”
And despite obviously looking at Saunders as the competition, Connolly can’t help but tip his hat following the UK champion’s latest triumph.
“I thought Saunders proved he’s one of the elite middleweights in the world,” said Connolly. “He had great stamina, great boxing ability. It was a total shutout. I couldn’t find one round to give Lemieux and he proved that he belongs as one of the top five or six middleweights in the world. He was definitely a lot more impressive than I expected him to be.”