Gennady Golovkin (-900) vs Billy Joe Saunders (+550), Draw (+3300)
A middleweight unification fight between Gennady Golovkin (37-0) and Billy Joe Saunders (24-0) is currently in the works and the two camps are eyeing a June fight in Golovkin’s home country of Kazakhstan.
Of course, none of this is certain yet but the fight makes a lot of sense. Gennady holds the WBA, WBC, IBF, and IBO middleweight titles, while Saunders holds the coveted WBO title. The winner would hold every major title in the middleweight division.
Standing in the way is Oscar De La Hoya, who is strongly urging Golovkin to hold out for a big-money fight against Canelo Alvarez. Long accused of avoiding Golovkin, Alvarez has a huge fight coming up with Julio César Chávez Jr. on Cinco de Mayo, and has stated that he’ll be willing to fight GGG sometime in September.
But Golovkin has been burnt before, and he may be better off seeking to unify the title rather than holding out for a fighter who has ducked him in the past. Besides, holding every major title in the middleweight division would give him more bargaining power when the Canelo-Golovkin fight finally takes place.
Taking on Saunders is a risk for Golovkin, though. The 34-year-old was a little feeble in his last fight against Danny Jacobs. He ended up winning but uncharacteristically let the fight go to decision. That followed another subpar bout against Kell Brook which saw Golovkin get out-boxed before breaking Brook’s eye socket. Those fights saw the Kazakh exposed in ways we’ve never seen before, raising some eyebrows and fueling speculation that Golovkin may be past his prime.
Saunders hasn’t been spectacular recently, either. After stripping Andy Lee of the WBO title in 2015, he took almost a year off. His sole fight of 2016 was against journeyman Artur Akavov; he won easily, but didn’t look too good in the process. He showed significant ring rust and appeared gassed by the final rounds.
Golovkin may be past his prime, but unless we see some drastic improvements by Saunders, Golovkin should claim the WBO belt quite easily. At -900, there’s not too much money to be made, but I wouldn’t feel confident putting my cash on Saunders for this one.
Pick: Gennady Golovkin (-900)
Photo credit: MartialArtsNomad (flickr) CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0]