'X-Mas Cracker' Preview: Can Andy Lee go on to set up bout with Gennady Golovkin?

The main bout on this Boxnation card is the match up between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders. After having the bout postponed twice; once due to illness, the other a cut in training camp, the fight will finally go ahead for Lee's WBO World Middleweight title.

Andy Lee (34-2-1) - Billy Joe Saunders (22-0)

This is one of the most anticipated domestic bouts this year, with Andy Lee defending his WBO World Middleweight title against Billy Joe Saunders, it proves a fitting way to end this year of boxing. If moving further forward in this highly competitive division wasn't enough incentive; it will also be the first World title bout between two men of traveller heritage.  

The London-born Irishman southpaw versus the Englishman southpaw. The upmost respect has been shared between the pair throughout the build up to this massive fight; but, the underlying matters at hand are the chance to further themselves within the division first and foremost, secondly, the pride of winning within their community; "One of us can win this fight by one point, but if you lose in our community you’ll be known only as the loser – and that’s it." 

Lee has already spoken of his desire to get a shot at 'Triple G', Gennady Golovkin (34-0), the man whose the undisputed top-dog in this exciting Middleweight division. Saunders has distanced himself from that same fight, instead alluding to a rematch with Chris Eubank Jr (21-1) to out him as a "phony" as he has dubbed him recently. 

This fight though is a real coin toss; if Lee can exert his fine one-punch power he'll be likely to hold onto his title via KO, however, if Saunders can evade that power then his skill in the ring could lead him to a points victory. It's not a case of 'the longer it goes on...' favouring Saunders by any means though, as, Lee's power will be a constant weapon throughout the bout.  

With everything considered, this should be an absolutely cracking bout. 

Liam Smith (21-0-1) - Jimmy Kelly (16-0)

Liverpudlian Liam Smith comes into this for his first defence of his WBO World Super-Welterweight title, having won the World title back in October, in this venue, with a simply sensational KO against John Thompson (17-2).  

The fight comes as something of a surprise for the challenger; 23-year-old Mancunian Jimmy Kelly, with this being only 17th professional bout, and, it being for a World title. Many have said this is testament to Smith preferring an 'easier' opponent for his first defence of his newly acquired title. However, Kelly believes he has the tools to trouble Smith and win the title.  

Whether or not it's a favourable match up in favour of the holder, Smith will know that if he gets through to 2016 with the belt his he can then target unification bouts against the likes of American duo; Erislandy Lara (22-2-2) and Jermall Charlo (23-0). Smith believes doing this is what "Fans want to see" with the best within the divisions fighting each other for the ultimate prizes. Smith also name-dropped Miguel Cotto (40-5) as someone he'd like "to share the ring with" and beat, feeling it would take him to the "next level." 

Mitchell Smith (13-0) - George Jupp (12-2)

One of the most exciting young English boxers at the moment, Mitchell Smith, up against the newly crowned Southern Area title holder, George Jupp. It's hard to see anything other than another KO from Smith to propel himself forward once again as he makes his second defence of his WBO Intercontinental Super-Featherweight title.  

Four of Jupp's last five bouts have been won on points, but, it's hard to see anyone taking Smith the distance in the form he's in right now and Smith believes that will be the case again on the night, saying he'd be "very, very disappointed" if he doesn't knock Jupp out and that he feels he is "several leagues" ahead of his opponent.

That said, Jupp has been unbeaten for eight consecutive bouts which see his last loss back in 2011, and, poses a new stylistic challenge as a taller/longer ranged fighter to Smith. Even with that in mind, it's hard to see Smith being beaten in the form and confidence he's in right now. 

Having been crowned the Best Young Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers Club earlier this year, winning the WBO World title against Cristian Palma (20-9-1), and making his second defence of it on this card - this year has been a very good year Smith.  

One, he'll hope will end on a high note to set him up nicely to press on even further in 2016 as he looks to prepare himself for the contention for a World title towards the back end of next year.  

The card will also include; Paul Butler (19-1) vs Silvio Olteanu (15-8-1) for the vacant WBO European Super-Flyweight title. Liam Williams (12-0-1) vs Kris Carslaw (22-5) will get it on for the British & vacant Commonwealth Junior-Middleweight titles. Lastly a rematch between Tom Stalker (10-1-2) and Craig Evans (14-1-1) for the vacant WBO European Lightweight Title only two months after their original encounter.

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