Billy Joe Saunders produced his career-best performance against his toughest opponent to date on paper in the form of David Lemieux. Saunders produced a boxing masterclass from round one to twelve in Lemieux’s hometown of Laval, Montreal, Canada winning a thoroughly deserved unanimous decision.
The opening frame saw Saunders box to the orders of trainer Dominic Ingle behind a lead right jab, using his superior technical ability to catch Lemieux as the Canadian entered the pocket. This along with his renown footwork and movement would continue to set the pattern in the contest, saw Lemieux chase shadows as he lunged and overreach his shots attempting to lay his footprint early.
The second round saw more of the same with the right jab snapping the head back of Lemieux whilst negating his attacks with light & fast movements. Saunders had telling success in the final thirty seconds, catching Lemieux with a left hook sending the Canadian into a corner with Saunders unloading four clean shots.
The third saw Saunders grow more in confidence as he continues to land the jab on Lemieux. Such was the ease of the contest so far Saunders began to taunt and showboat frustrating Lemieux as he still missed with anything thrown in anger. Lemieux landed with two right hands of any significance which Saunders took with ease.
Round four saw Lemieux up his ambitions and tempo chasing the champion around the ring, seeking to close the gap and get some shots landing. Lemieux was landing with a handful of jabs to the head however despite closing the gap and in range, neglected to throw telling shots to the body of Saunders. Saunders continued to pump his stiff, accurate right jab whilst in the right moments following up with left hooks around the guard. Despite the efforts of the Canadian was still made to miss wildly and outboxed by the champion.
The fifth round was again a similar pattern, Saunders working well behind the jab making Lemieux miss almost will and now countering the work of the Canadian. The highlight of the round was Lemieux attempting to throw an overhand right, missing badly due to the elusiveness of Saunders, saw the champion look into the crowd to see where it landed.
The sixth saw Saunders continue in a similar vein, jabbing, moving and ultimately outboxing the former IBF world champion with little landing in return.
The seventh saw Saunders begin to hurt Lemieux early in the round, stunning the Canadian into the ropes from a right hook before unloading a class two punch combination. Throughout the round, Saunders landed hard on the Canadian hurting a doing visible damage, with a bloody nose from a punch with continued to bleed throughout the rest of the contest.
The eight round saw again Saunders lead with the jab, moving and forcing Lemieux to chase him whilst peppering the jab at intervals.
The ninth and tenth rounds saw Lemieux getting frustrated and attempting to land more and more but missed wildly. Saunders kept his concentration and didn’t get overexcited with his shots which landed. This was highlighted with an uppercut which caught Lemieux through the guard which sent the Canadians head to snap back violently and stumble.
The eleventh was Lemieux’s best round of the contest with at last shots of telling proportions landing, yet had zero effect on Saunders and his concentration. Saunders throughout his career had a tendency to switch off from fights making him susceptible to taking unnecessary shots, not on this occasion, however.
The twelfth and final round again continued the precession of the previous eleven rounds, Lemieux chasing and ultimately picked off and negated his strengths by Saunders.
After twelve rounds the judge’s scores all read in favour of Saunders reading: 120-108, 117-111, 118-110. The result meaning Billy Joe Saunders retains his WBO world middleweight title.
Post fight speaking to HBO, Saunders called out divisional rival and unified (WBC,WBA,IBF &IBO) world champion Gennady Golovkin. Saunders also credited Dominic Ingle for saving his boxing career :
“I know you guys are booing me because I whipped your fighter’s arse, but that’s boxing,
“This time last year I was an absolute disgrace in Scotland and I would never jump in the ring again with a performance like that but that’s all down to one man and one man only – Dominic Ingle in Sheffield.
“If it wasn’t for him my boxing career would be finished and over.”
“I’ve beaten enough dogmeat now. Golovkin, you keep saying you want my WBO belt when I was 14 stone, out of shape and out of love with boxing.
“Fight me now because we’ll see a different story and you’ll be punching fresh air.”
David Lemieux discredited Saunders victory saying he did nothing but run and claimed that he suffered a damaged left hand as early as the second round:
“I was not at my best. Hats off to Billy Joe, but as of the second round, my left hand, I couldn’t use it the way I wanted to. He was on the run, so, I had a little bit of difficulty throwing my shots,
He was running away from the first round until the end. I guess that’s his strategy to win, to run away from fighters instead of fighting. If this is the way you want to win, then hey, congratulations.”
Billy Joe Saunders improves his professional record to 26-0, whilst Lemieux’s record now stands at 38 wins with four defeats.