With half a century in the boxing game trainer Jimmy Tibbs is not the type to become overawed by an occasion, even when his star pupil is just under two months away from his first crack at a world title.
Tibbs will take charge of Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 KO’s), his camp and eventually his corner for the occasion, scheduled to take place on September 19th at Thomond Park in Limerick, Ireland.
It will be a homecoming for the champion Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 KO’s) and his second defence, having battled back from two early knockdowns to claim a draw against the undefeated Peter Quillin in April.
That was a voluntary defence for Lee and Saunders was compensated for stepping aside and allowing that bout to happen, as he already occupied the mandatory challenger position after beating Chris Eubank Jr last November.
Having waited longer than planned, Tibbs feels his man is more than ready for his first step up to world level and told iFL TV as much.
“He deserves it; he’s British and European, Commonwealth champion, he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, they [the WBO] have nominated him to be number one contender so he’s got to have the right to fight for the title.”
And he will be doing so in front of what is expected to be a packed stadium and on the wrong side of the partisan crowd, but Tibbs feels Saunders past experiences just hold him in good stead.
“Well it’s gonna be something like the Eubank fight.”
“It won’t make no difference once you’re in that ring. A ring’s a ring, you know.”
Hopefully for Tibbs and Saunders, the atmosphere will not have any negative effects on them, but we have seen how the roar of the crowd can galvanise a fighter in his hour of need; be it the Nottingham faithful for Carl Froch when he demolished Lucian Bute, or Ricky Hatton when he dethroned Kostya Tszyu.
But the Old Head reckons the fighter with the better composure will ultimately win out.
“This is a genuine 50/50 fight, for both fighters. And the man who gets his tactics right on the night, keeps his cool, he could be the winner.”