Last weekend (December 9, 2017), Billy Joe Saunders successfully defended his WBO Middleweight title, scoring a one-sided unanimous decision victory over former IBF champion David Lemieux in the main event of an HBO televised card that took place in Quebec, Canada.
After the win, Saunders expressed his interest in a bout with unified WBA, WBC, IBF and IBO Middleweight champion, Gennady Golovkin. In the past, “GGG” had expressed interest in challenging Saunders for the WBO title, the only 160-pound strap that Golovkin does not have possession of, but the bout never came to fruition, and although both men rank as two of the best Middleweights in the world, it likely won’t happen in the coming months either.
Golovkin, who’s coming off of a controversial draw against Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez this past September in Las Vegas, is expected to rematch Canelo this May.
With that being said, a bout between Saunders and ex-WBA champion Daniel Jacobs should be on tap for 2018. In fact, it would even make sense for it to take place on the undercard of a rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin if that fight does indeed become official.
Jacobs, who holds a 33-2 professional record, with one of those losses coming against GGG, is also one of the top 160 pounders in the world, and he’s been quite vocal about his interest in fighting Saunders over the last few days.
Stylistically, Jacobs is a well-rounded fighter with solid movement and quick hand speed. And although he’s been dropped a few times over the course of his career, he hung with Golovkin for 12 rounds in an incredibly close fight.
He also recently bounced back from that defeat with a unanimous-decision victory over Luis Arias last month on Long Island.
Saunders, on the other hand, possesses a perfect 26-0 professional record, with 12 of those victories coming by way of stoppage. Despite his impressive record, however, he’s been criticized a bit for the lack of legitimate competition he’s faced.
Aside from Lemieux, Saunders hasn’t faced much top talent and there have been points over the last few years when he’s been a bit inactive.
On the contrary, however, his performance against Lemieux speaks for itself. Some may argue that he was “running” more than fighting, but he simply outclassed and picked apart the Canadian.
Saunders should certainly be competing against the top fighters in the 160-pound division, and at this point, Jacobs is the best option.
For Saunders, this fight would present another opportunity to successfully defend his title against an established fighter. For Jacobs, meanwhile, this fight would provide him with an opportunity to prove that he still belongs amongst the Middleweight elite.
Also, the winner of the bout would fit perfectly in line to take on the winner of a potential rematch between Canelo and GGG.
Header photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO