Tibbs praises ‘best night’ as Saunders wins world belt

PUBLISHED: 10:00 23 December 2015

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO world middleweight title at Manchester Arena (pic: Richard Sellers/PA)

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO world middleweight title at Manchester Arena (pic: Richard Sellers/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

Local trainer guides middlweight to WBO title

Billy Joe Saunders added his name to the long list of boxers guided to world titles by trainer Jimmy Tibbs on Saturday and the respected coach admitted it was a night to match his best in almost sixty years in the business.

In an illustrious career, Tibbs has guided the likes of Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn and Barry McGuigan to world title success.

Saunders joined that roll of honour with a points decision win over Andy Lee to claim the WBO world middleweight belt.

And Tibbs was delighted that the 25-year-old was able to execute their pre-fight plan to defeat the man known as ‘Irish’.

“Billy Joe boxed to orders - he stayed focused and he did the job perfectly,” said the east London cornerman who, with son Mark, played a key role in planning the win over Lee in Manchester.

Two third round knockdowns clinched the majority points verdict and Tibbs insisted that the speed and the all-round ability of the undefeated challenger set up the success.

“Andy has a good reach and wanted to control the fight at long range, but we worked a lot in training to get Billy Joe moving inside his long arms and land at close quarters - that’s how the knockdowns came,” said Tibbs.

The new WBO middleweight champion stressed the importance of the father and son training team, who have coached him throughout his six-year pro career.

“These two put me through hell, but got me in superb shape to take the world title that has always been my dream and I have to thank them both.”

After his success in round three it was expected that he would go all out for a stoppage success but, under strict orders from his cornermen, he was not taking risks.

Saunders argued: “Andy is a dangerous puncher who has come from behind to shock opponents. I knew I was in front - why take chances?”

Lee, born in Bow and fight-raised at the Repton club, came back to win rounds, but could not make up the deficit on two of the judges cards who voted Saunders a 114-112 and 115-111 winner although a third had it 113-113.

That level scoring brought criticism from Frank Warren, but the promoter who Saunders insisted has delivered everything he promised, was happier to praise the new champion.

“Billy is an outstanding talent who I am sure will go on to bigger things,” said Warren.

Loser Lee admitted that the two knockdowns had cost him his title, but stayed silent about his future in boxing.

On the undercard at Manchester light-heavyweight Anthony Yarde made it four straight pro wins, destroying Middleton’s Curtis Gargano in 95 seconds.

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