Saunders vs Lemieux – Away from home & into the lion’s den
We are two weeks away from what could be one of the most pivotal match ups in the middleweight division. Brit Billy Joe Saunders travels to hostile territory to defend his WBO world title against the dynamite punching David Lemieux. Travelling abroad to fight has a unique set of challenges which Saunders will have to overcome for the first time as a professional. Travelling however, is nothing new to Saunders within the boxing world. Before he embarked on his professional career he was a highly decorated amateur culminating at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Saunders spent a remarkable amount of time travelling the world and competing against the best boxers that were on offer. This will be the first time however as a professional, it will be in a world title contest & it will be against the most dangerous man he has yet to encounter.
David Lemieux is an intimidating figure. His professional record currently stands at 38 wins, 3 defeats with a whopping 33 of those wins coming by way of knockout. I think its safe to say this man carries legit power. He is in fine form and has bounced back well after being outclassed by GGG with 4 wins and 2 ko’s. He has been hungry to get back into the Middleweight title picture and has been presented with what he will see as a fantastic opportunity at home. This brings up a potential issue Saunders may be facing in this fight. Not renowned as a knockout puncher, Saunders’s fights at this level usually go the distance. On foreign soil will Saunders as champion get the benefit of the doubt? Will any close rounds be scored in his favour? Does the man without the renowned KO punch have to go on the hunt for the KO? This doubt about being favoured by the judges may be in the forefront of his mind for perhaps the first time.
The above point is compounded when you realize that Saunders is the holder of the only belt which isn’t tied up in the Canelo-GGG saga. It’s been long established that Golovkin is on the hunt for undisputed Middleweight sovereignty. Lemieux is a Golden Boy promotions fighter, Canelo is a Golden Boy promotions fighter, Golden Boy promotions will be the promoters of the blockbuster rematch…it doesn’t take a genius to realize that they would love to have Saunders belt around the waist of a fighter in their stable, one that has already been defeated handily by Golovkin. They could then set up a fight for Lemieux with Canelo in the interim, putting all the belts on the line in a Golovkin – Canelo rematch, should Canelo defeat him.
Saunders has teamed up with a new training team lead by Dominic Ingle. They have championed his improvements in both lifestyle and conditioning since the move. Saunders has been a fighter that has grown a reputation of coming into fights less than prepared and slowing down over the scheduled distance. This is not a fight in which the Hatfield born southpaw slickster can afford to switch off and take some rest bites on the ropes. Lemieux is a fighter that is dangerous from first bell till the last and has proved on many occasions it only takes one from him to render his opponent unconscious. Saunders last fight against fellow southpaw slickster Willie Monroe was not fought at the type of frenetic pace that would ask or answer any questions of a fighters conditioning. This upcoming contest will be the acid test. Should Saunders prevail then surely the winner of the mega rematch between Canelo & GGG awaits. A fight for all the middleweight marbles, a fight with tremendous ramifications for the division/sport & a fight in which the combatants will be compensated richly…the stakes couldn’t be higher. Will Billy Joe Saunders announce himself on the biggest stage? Or will David Lemieux add another highlight to his ever-growing reel of knockouts?
I can’t wait for this one…