Saunders: Champion Lee deserves homecoming

The press conference on Tuesday to announce Andy Lee’s defence of his WBO middleweight title in Thomond Park turned out to be a very dignified affair. Lee has rightly gained a reputation as a boxing gentleman, but the challenger for his belt, Billy Joe Saunders, also exhibited that he is a class act and certainly won himself a few admirers.

It had earlier seemed likely that the fight would be held in London at Upton Park, however Saunders showed no ill-feeling that the bout will now take place at the home of Munster Rugby.

Speaking of Lee, Saunders believes that “he’s the champion, the champion gets what he wants,” and that “he deserves a homecoming to be fair, he’s a good champion. He’s been to America a few times and caused some big upsets so I think it’s about time you give Ireland back a little bit and bring this very exciting fight here.”

Some may be surprised by the friendly and respectful demeanour of Saunders. Indeed the Englishman gained a reputation for smack talk after the venomous build up to his grudge match with Chris Eubank Jr., but the Hertfordshire man believes that verbal sparring is not necessary to sell this fight. The 25 year old explained that “I got a lot of respect for Andy – a lot of fights need building up and thrash talk, but this fight don’t need talking up.”

The slick southpaw predicts that “the fans are definitely gonna win on this fight” and stated that “I can guarantee one thing, me and Andy are going to leave nothing in that ring, we’re gonna put it all in that fight.”

Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on, Boxing News,, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: