Billy Joe Saunders seeks out Canelo Alvarez after win over David Lemieux
WBO world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, 26-0 (12), and former IBF champion David Lemieux, 38-4 (33), squared off Saturday night at Place Bell in Laval, Québec.
If the fight lived up to anything close to its pre-fight fireworks, then this was going to a good one, to say the least.
Saunders was undefeated, coming into the bout, and was loud and proud throughout the week leading up to the fight. While the Hertfordshire, England boxer showed some respect for Lemieux’s punching power, he didn’t give many props to any other aspect of his game. Saunders spent most of the week telling reporters that “Lemieux doesn’t have the skills to match me,” and promised to “put him out like a candle.”
Speaking before the fight, Lemieux wasn’t shy about his dislike towards Saunders and was very vocal about how was sure he was that he would walk out of the Place Bell, as a new world champion on Saturday night.
“The time to talk is over and now it’s time to let the fists do the talking and show you who the real world champion is. My promise to you is that, by the time I will leave Place Bell, I will have the WBO belt on me,” said Lemieux in his thick, French Canadian accent. “I will be world champion. I’m ready to give you guys a great evening of boxing. Saunders made a lot of promises, about his chin, about his purse, and that’s something I haven’t forgotten. Let’s see for how long you will be able to back up those words.”
Saunders stormed into Lemieux’s hometown and spent the better part of last week making it very clear that he was the indeed the champion and he had no intentions of leaving Quebec without his WBO strap. He also made it clear that, after taking care of Lemieux, it was on to bigger and better things – those being division stars Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez.
“David has to come from round one and try to knock me out because, when he’s eating fresh air, he’s very injury-prone. But what I don’t want from David’s team are excuses. David is a good fighter; he’s mixed it with Golovkin at a very elite level,” said an overly confident Saunders. “But some boxers are not quite enough to be at that elite level. And David, you’re not quite good enough. Am I good enough? We’ll soon see. In my own mind, I know I can deal with it and then, with Golovkin or Canelo, we’ll see where I really am.”
The basic plotline going into the fight was that Saunders possessed the better boxing skills. However, the power department clearly belonged to the thunderous-punching Lemieux.
Would Saunders be able to keep Lemieux at the end of his jab and work from the outside? Or would Lemieux be able to close the distance, land the power shots that have dispatched 33 of his previous 38 opponents and send the Quebec faithful home happy, after watching him capture his second world title?
In the end, skills paid the bills on this evening as Saunders clearly dominated Lemieux over 12 one-sided rounds. The hometown favorite Lemieux was never able to get any real momentum going in the fight and was thoroughly outboxed by Saunders.
All three official ringside judges scored the bout as a near-shut-out for England’s Saunders with scores of 120-108, 117-111 and 118-110.
While a disappointed Lemieux pointed to an injured left hand and an opponent unwilling to engage as his main problems on this night, it was all smiles and celebration for Saunders.
And after the win he had one thing on his mind – a mega-fight with Mexican star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
“I know you’re booing me because I whooped your fighter’s ass,” Saunders told a disappointed and frustrated Quebec crowd. “I wouldn’t have come over here if I thought I’d get beat. I’m a different animal now. I wanted to put it on Lemieux…Canelo fight me NOW!”