On Saturday night in the Bell Center, Montreal, undefeated WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders will take on dangerous puncher David Lemieux in what is sure to be an exciting match-up.
Odds for this fight are fairly split with Billy Joe coming in as the slight -120 favorite and Lemieux coming back at around even money.
This will be Billy Joe Saunders first fight outside the United Kingdom and its a stern test for the champion as Lemieux will relish being in front of his home town crowd who should provide an electric atmosphere up in Montreal.
The champion Saunders comes off a very good win in September over underrated southpaw Willie Monroe Jr. Monroe, a very tricky technical fighter, was simply outworked by Saunders, who was uncharacteristically patient during the fight, as he picked his shots and exploited Monroe’s low volume to take a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards. Before that fight, Saunders had gone almost two years with only one lackluster defense against unheralded journeyman Artur Akavov, a fight Billy Joe looked so poor in he was forced to apologize to the Scottish crowd after his sub-par performance. If that version of Saunders somehow emerges in Montreal this Saturday again, it could be a short night for the Englishman.
However, since teaming up with Kell Brook’s trainer Dominic Ingle down in Sheffield, Saunders looks like a different fighter. While before he would allow himself to get dragged into dogfights and wars of attrition despite having the superior ring craft like he did against Eubank Jr, with Monroe he used his superior offensive skills and rarely allowed Monroe to gain a foothold in the fight, smoothly boxing his way to a wide decision.
If he is to emerge victorious against concussive puncher David Lemieux on Saturday night he will need to put all these skills into effect once again and utilize every bit of his superior ring craft.
Lemieux is simply one of the hardest one punch knock-out artists in boxing and it almost can’t be stressed enough how hard this guy hits. Curtis Stevens. Out cold. Hector Camacho Jr. Out cold. Alvaro Gaona. Out cold. Very few fighters display such ferocity in their punching power as David Lemieux does and with 33 KO’s in 38 wins, Lemieux is justifiably one of the most feared men in boxing when it comes to delivering punishment.
Lemieux also has above-average ring generalship. He employs a good jab, can cut off the ring effectively and while sometimes reckless, has enough variety in his punches to keep opposing fighters guessing as to where the next shot is coming from.
Overall, this fight is a real toss up in many ways as without doubt, Billy Joe Saunders has the ability to win a convincing points decision in Canada, but he has to be switched on 110% for the full twelve rounds. However, I’m leaning with David Lemieux in this one as while Billy Joe is the more accomplished boxer of the two, Lemieux is no dummy in this department either and can employ his jab effectively has he looks to ambush Saunders from long range, jumping in like he did against N’Dam.
Where I think the fight will be won and lost though is in the clinch. Saunders is used to using his superior reflexes as his primary defense and often negates to use the clinch. This could cost him big in this fight as Lemieux has one of the best compact left hooks in the game and he could end Saunders’ night early if he can connect with it. Ensuring he can properly tie up Lemieux will no doubt be paramount to Ingle’s game plan in this fight but whether Billy Joe can effectively incorporate it into his style is another matter.
This is a great fight all-round and is one of the hardest fights to call we have seen in recent memory. There are so many realistic outcomes that can happen in this fight. Saunders can definitely win by decision using his more fluid skills. Lemieux also has the chance at a decision if he can hurt Billy Joe early and have him back-pedalling the entire fight, taking a decision in his hometown. However, the one I’m going with is Lemieux by KO/TKO as I think Saunders will box well but his poor inside technique and clinching will no doubt cost him at some stage during the fight and one mistake is likely all that Lemieux needs to ensure this belt changes hands on Saturday night.
Pick: Take the underdog David Lemieux via KO/TKO