Billy Joe Saunders relieved his fellow traveller Andy Lee of his world middleweight title.
It was a tactical triumph for Saunders in the first world championship bout in ring history between two members of their mobile community but there was more shadow boxing than hurtful fisticuffs in a subdued Manchester Arena.
Hatfield’s Saunders deserved to fulfill his dream, not least for the two right-handed knock-downs he inflicted in the third round to stretch out a lead which never looked like being over-hauled.
Ireland’s Lee made the inexplicable mistake of fighting Saunders at his own game of skill and technique.
Not until the last of the 12 rounds did he let fly with those fists, which had dug him out of deep trouble in America first to win, then when once defending his WBO belt.
Much too little, far too late.
Even before he was decked twice Lee was as apprehensive as Saunders was wary of his knock-out reputation. Cat and mouse? In its bobbing, weaving and occasional lunging it also resembled a fencing duel at the Olympics in which both these men fought in the past.
But Saunders played the cat more often.
On my card, thanks in part to his 10-7 winning of the third, he was five points ahead at half-way.
Game all but over but still Lee tried to outbox his challenger rather than land his exocet. When he did swing, Saunders invariably ducked or swayed out of reach.
For long periods they might have been sparring in the gym.
Saunders is being courted for title unification fights by WBA regular and super champions Daniel Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin respectively.
It might be wiser to take Jacobs before risking everything against deadly middleweight KO king Golovkin.
One judge scored it a draw. Saunders got the majority decision by 114-112 and 115-111.
I had Saunders winning 116-112


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