Andy Lee says he will target Gennady Golovkin, arguably the most feared boxer on the planet, once he gets past mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders.
The Limerick man has seen two proposed fight dates with Saunders fall through already but the pair will finally meet, for Lee’s WBO middleweight belt, at the Manchester Arena on December 19.
Golovkin, who took his streak of consecutive stoppage wins to 21 by beating David Lemieux in New York on Saturday, currently holds the IBF, WBA and WBC interim versions of the 160lb title and says he wants to add Lee’s strap to his collection.
The Kazakh is widely considered the hardest puncher in the sport today and boasts the best knock-out percentage in the history of the division. Lee, however, believes he punches even harder than Golovkin and wants the chance to prove it.
Lee, who has stopped 24 of his 37 opponents to date, said: “I think I punch as hard, if not harder than Golovkin. Just look at the one-punch knockouts. Look at mine, compared to his. His are an accumulation of heavy, hard punches but I can finish fights with one punch. It’s up to me to prove it now, starting against Billy Joe.
“Golovkin can take a dig but he has never fought a real puncher or been hit by a big puncher. Nobody wants to fight him and there aren’t really any big punchers in the division apart from me.”
Following the apparent retirement of Floyd Mayweather, there is some debate over who has replaced him as the world’s No.1 pound-for-pound fighter. Lee added: “Golovkin is definitely in the top two or three. You have to hand it to him, there is no point trying to rubbish him, he’s doing it in the ring and making it look easy.
“He’s a well educated boxer who knows how to fight. He’s got that amateur pedigree and has added things to it. He almost has that Tyson effect where his reputation is bigger than what actually happens.”
But Lee has already shared a ring with the 33-year-old, in the 2003 world amateur championships, which Golovkin eventually won.
Lee added: “I remember I had no idea who he was. It was my second fight at the world championships, my first senior tournament. He was the world champion coming into it but I had no idea who he was - I was only 18 at the time.
“He worked me over that day, I did enough to hang in with him and go the distance but I had never fought anybody with that style. I’m more seasoned now.”
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