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Andy Lee eyes Gennady Golovkin ahead of Billy Joe Saunders bout

After two cancellations, Andy Lee is tired of talking about Saturday's fight with Billy Joe Saunders. What he wants instead is to be soon discussing a bout with world No.1 Gennady Golovkin.

Lee (34-2-1, 24 KOs) makes a first defence of his WBO world middleweight title against Saunders (22-0 12 KOs) at the Manchester Arena on Saturday after seeing the clash twice postponed -- first on September 19 and then October 10.

The Irishman won the belt a year ago by stopping Matt Korobov in six rounds in Las Vegas and was then held to a points draw with Peter Quillin in New York in April.

Quillin failed to make the weight, so the fight became a non-title bout, and Lee then had to pull out of facing Saunders in September due to illness, before the unbeaten Englishman withdrew from a rescheduled date after suffering a cut in sparring.

Despite the frustrating wait to make his first defence, 31-year-old Lee is excited about the opportunity that potentially awaits him should he defeat Saunders, who like himself is from the traveller community.

"For me most of all, the Golovkin fight makes sense because of my history, my reputation I've built up in America after fighting there quite a few times and where I'm more known than Billy Joe," Lee told ESPN.

"He's the best in the division but if anyone can beat him it's me," Lee said. "I'm a match for him in terms of punching power and technique."

WBA-IBF middleweight champion Golovkin (34-0, 31 KOs), is currently being linked with a unification fight against Mexico's Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs), the WBC title-holder, for next autumn but is looking for an opponent to face in the spring. Lee hopes he will be getting a call from Golovkin's people next week about another unification fight.

"There's only one belt holder other than me," Lee said. "This is the only other belt out there for Golovkin. It's a big fight and it's one Golovkin I'm sure would be interested in. It's a fight I'm up for, I would love the chance to test myself against him."

"But I'm not looking past Billy Joe. If I beat Billy Joe, [Golovkin's] a fight I want after this one. In terms of knock out power I think I'm the biggest puncher in the division, I can knock people out with one punch, I've done it before a few times and can do it again.

"I've been training and training and there's been no end in sight with the postponements. I've felt like that guy pushing a rock up a hill, not getting anywhere, but I see light at the end of the tunnel.

"We've both got a lot of frustration after two cancellations and it's been a while since we both fought. We are both tired of talking."

Since being stopped by Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez in 2012 for the WBC version of the world middleweight title, Lee has registered four knockouts in seven fights. Saunders, however, has gone the 12-round distance in five of his last six championship fights and Lee expects his challenger to box rather than go for the KO amid a slugfest.

"Boxing, getting decisions, is how he has always fought and he might try and walk forward but that would be against everything what he has so far done," Lee said. "I anticipate a boxing match, he works at a high rate and he looks to take advantage when you take a rest.

"But I will be ready for him, I will keep with the pace and will be working for three minutes of every round. I've sparred with Deion Jumah and Bradley Skeete among others for this fight to get ready for Billy."

It is another away fight for Lee, who last boxed in his home nation five years ago. But Lee is used to travelling after spending six years based in Detroit or Austria -- where Wladimir Klitschko has his training base -- with American trainer Emanuel Steward.

After Steward's death in 2012, four month's after Lee's defeat to Chavez, the Limerick man has worked with English trainer Adam Booth at training bases in Monaco and then Surrey for this fight.

Four of Lee's last six fights have been in America, one in Denmark and the other in Manchester where he returns on Saturday, but this is one traveller who does not mind the journeys.

"It suits me in some ways fighting away from home," Lee said. "One of the things I would be worrying about it if it was happening in Limerick was the demands on you with it being at home promoting the fight.

"It takes a lot of energy out of you whereas, with it being in Manchester, I will just stay together with close family and friends and not have to worry about all the other commitments.

"There's a good crowd of fans and family still coming over for it and there could be as many fans there as Billy Joe, who isn't from Manchester remember."

Lee produced a stunning knockout of Ferenc Hafner when he boxed at Saturday night's venue two years ago and although he is a proud Limerick man, he began his life as a Londoner.

"I was born in Mile End Hospital and grew up in Bow, went to school there and only went to Ireland when I was 14," Lee said.

Lee is too polite for trash talk, unlike his second cousin Tyson Fury, the WBA-WBO world heavyweight champion, and is bright as well as well travelled. But he warned 26-year-old Saunders there will be no niceties from him this weekend as he chases the Golovkin bout.

"It's been respectful between me and Billy but we are both very competitive and once we get in the ring there will be no respect," Lee added. "It's two lads from the travelling community and there's a lot of pride on the line."

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