By: Waqas Ali
As we edge closer to the making of this bout, fans are filled with anticipation.
Former champion Billy Joe Saunders looks like he will get a chance to recapture his WBO middleweight crown as he appears to be close to fighting Demetrius Andrade, who holds the belt.
The pair were initially meant to fight on October 20th 2018, but when Saunders tested positive for a banned substance called Oxilofrine in August, it cost him a licence from the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.
Saunders then vacated the belt in fear of being stripped.
Andrade (27-0) fought for the belt against Walter Kautondokwa and won by unanimous decision.
He then recently stopped Artur Akavov in the 12th round to make his first successful defence of the belt.
Andrade, 30, was then ordered by the WBO to negotiate a deal with Saunders within 30 days.
“They’ve called purse bids,” Saunders’ promoter Frank Warren said.
“We’ve got a negotiation period then we’ll go to purse bids.”
He continued, “Good news for Bill, we worked very hard to get him back in the number one spot. He should be the champion.”
Currently, Saunders is the no.1 challenger by the WBO and ranked no.3 by Ring Magazine in the middleweight division.
His recent bout was over a month ago when he fought on the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton in December 2018.
Saunders, 29, defeated Charles Adamu via fourth-round TKO. But the bout itself was not part of BT Sport’s live TV coverage.
It was his first win since defeating David Lemieux in December 2017.
Amongst boxing fans on social media Saunders is the favourite to win against Andrade.
According to a poll conducted by boxing fan page Editinking on Twitter, out of 4,900 plus voters, 65% of them picked Saunders by decision, 15% by KO/TKO and only 14% for Andrade by points.
Demetrius Andrade vs Billy Joe Saunders
Who wins? #AndradeSaunders
— EditinKing Boxing (@EditinKing) January 22, 2019
Saunders even tweeted as a response upon hearing the WBO’s request for Andrade to fight the Englishman.
Saying: “I’ll take that thank you ‘ #ITsMeAgain”
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) January 21, 2019
The scorpion inside the system of Saunders is suddenly starving for its prey.
But what styles and statistics support each fighter?
Saunders has a record consisting of 27 wins and zero losses.
His height is five feet 11 inches and a reach of 71”. He’s fought once outside the UK and averaged 716,000 in terms of viewership for the main event against Lemieux, according to Showbuzz Daily.
In terms of competition, he’s fought Chris Eubank Jr, Andy Lee and David Lemieux.
According to Compubox review, Saunders throws more jabs (25) than he does with power (13) punches per round.
The average middleweight throws around 57 and lands at a rate of 16 per round. Whilst Saunders only lands at 10. His connecting of jabs rate at six, whereas the average fighter lands at four.
The defence of Saunders is a plus point when only 18% of punches landed by his opponents with seven landing per round. That’s only half of the middleweight average.
Saunders is often known to be a 12 round fighter and hardly looks for a knockout. Considering the fact that 13 of his 27 wins were by decision. In his last six wins, four of them were point’s wins.
He starts off cleanly using his footwork and jabbing to the head and body. He uses his head movement really well and avoids exchanges.
Andrade is a bit taller at 6 foot 1 and a reach of 73”. He is already a two-weight world champion and 17 of his 27 wins come by KO. In his last six wins, three were by decision and three by KO.
Andrade’s activity level is reasonably high, considering the fact that he throws around 60 punches per round and lands around 18.
Another stat of a plus point is the power punching department. He throws around 32 and lands at 14 punches per round. That is three times higher than the average middleweight. He has a connect percentage of 45% and rest of the middleweights land at 37%.
One must keep in mind that Lemieux also had a higher activity and landing rate than Saunders but did not do enough to win and had no solution whatsoever to the style of Saunders.
Nobody can underestimate the talent of both fighters and the kind of skills, styles and seriousness they bring to the table. The compatibility is great. The numbers suggest the kind of game each fighter likes to play. Saunders is more of a chess player and could as well lead in the jab category. Andrade could as well lead in the power and connecting rate. But many questions will be asked. How will Andrade keep up with the footwork and timing of Saunders? Will he be able to keep up with the activity rate? Will Saunders produce a thrilling performance against Andrade as he did with Lemieux?