Lee shoots down rumors that GGG fight is already in talks

Andy Lee hasn't fought since December, but the former middleweight titlist is ready to get back in the ring this fall. Chris Farina/Top Rank

Plan A for newly unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is to next fight the winner of the Nov. 21 megafight between champion Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez, for which GGG is the mandatory challenger by virtue of also owning an interim belt.

But if that fight does not happen for whatever reason, the next-best thing for Golovkin, who wants all four of the major 160-pound belts, would be to fight the winner of the fight between titlist Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders, Lee’s mandatory challenger. They meet Dec. 19 at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.

After Golovkin wiped out David Lemieux to unify belts on Saturday night at a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York, stopping him in the eighth round, Golovkin said that, yes, he wanted the Lee-Saunders winner if he can’t make a fight with the Cotto-Canelo winner.

K2’s Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, said the same thing.

“The priority is to see who is the winner Nov. 21,” Loeffler said. “[But] it’s clearly a great fight with Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders. We give Andy Lee a lot of credit. He is one of the top middleweights to agree to fight Gennady last year. If he comes out successful [against Saunders], there’s no reason to think he won’t agree to fight Gennady again.”

Golovkin and Lee were due to fight in April 2014 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden, but the fight was canceled when Golovkin’s father died and he returned home to Kazakhstan to attend his father’s funeral and mourn with his family. In December, Lee got a shot at a vacant belt and knocked out Matt Korobov to win it.

With a possible Golovkin-Lee fight in the future, Lee had to shoot down rumors that it was already in talks at a news conference on Thursday for his fight with Saunders.

“It would be stupid of me or [trainer/manager] Adam Booth to look past Saunders, as he’s the next man I’m facing in the ring and he’s a dangerous fighter who could take my title,” Lee said. “There’s no way at all I'd be overlooking him. Golovkin is the golden carrot for everyone in the middleweight division, but I have to deal with Saunders first.”

Saunders said he is also only thinking about Lee and that any discussion of a Golovkin fight would have to wait until he potentially wins the belt.

“I do hope that Lee is concentrating on this fight because I’m going all-out to take his title,” Saunders said. “He’s a clever man and I know he wouldn’t be looking past me, so I was surprised to hear that. Golovkin is the main man in the division at the moment, but when I win the title, then he’s going to be calling me out for the WBO belt if he wants to unify them.”