HBO results: Billy Joe Saunders outclasses David Lemieux, calls out Gennady Golovkin
Billy Joe Saunders put a boxing clinic against David Lemieux Saturday night and, in his third defense of the WBO middleweight title, put on an impressive audition that could land him a bigger fight in the future. The fight was the main event of an “HBO World Championship Boxing” card held at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
“I know you’re booing me cause I beat your fighter’s ass but that’s boxing,” Saunders cheekily said to the crowd under the glow of victory, in the post-fight interview with Max Kellerman.
Fighting in enemy territory, Saunders, Hatfield Hertfordshire, United Kingdom, spent much of his time in the pre-fight festivities trying to rile up anyone who would listen but, within the first two rounds, he quieted the French-Canadian crowd as he made them well aware their guy had no answer for his skills.
Saunders, 26-0 (12), pretty much defined the term “ring general.” His jab snapped with authority and, within moments of the start of the fight, had Lemieux measured well enough to safely throw lead lefts to the body out of his southpaw stance. The catalyst to Saunders’ success, however, was his brilliant movement, hopping in and out of the pocket to score and avoid a return, then boxing circles around Lemieux, who often ended each exchange whiffing at air. In the second round, Saunders had already showboated with the shuffling of his feet and, in the following round, looked up to the rafters after Lemieux winged a badly missed hook.
“I wasn’t at my best,” said Lemieux afterward. “Hat’s 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 difficulties throwing my shots.”
Lemieux, 38-4 (33), started to get more aggressive at the end of the third but the short-armed power-puncher couldn’t corral Saunders into striking range. Unable to cut the ring off, thanks to Saunders constant repositioning, Lemieux barely even threw a jab, landing 12 to Billy Joe’s 103. In the middle rounds, Saunders began prodding him with straight left hands, that momentarily paused a charging Lemieux and he was making it look so easy. The fight grew monotonous as it entered the later rounds and, once the fight came to its merciless end, Lemieux was beaten up well enough to sport a bloody nose, and Saunders looked as fresh as he could, after turning in his best performance to date.
120-108, 118-110 and 117-111 were the final scores, in favor of Saunders.
“I look easy to put down and I look like I can run out of gas but you can’t hit me, said Saunders, who made sure to give credit to his new cornerman. “This time, last year, I was an absolute disgrace in Scotland (versus Artur Akavov) and I’ll never ever jump in the ring again with a performance like that. And that’s down to one man and one man only: Dominic Ingle from Sheffield. If it wasn’t for him, my boxing career would’ve been finished and over.”
In closing, Saunders had a message for one of the biggest players of the 160-pound class.
“(Unified titlist Gennady) Golovkin – you keep saying you want my WBO belt, when I was 14 stones out of shape and wasn’t in love with boxing – then you wanted to fight me. Fight me now. Now fight me. We’ll see different stories, and you’ll be punching fresh air. That’s it.”
Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan forced a seventh round stoppage of Antoine “Action” Douglas in the co-feature. The middleweight contest was scheduled for ten rounds.
Referee Steve St-Germain prevented this one from getting worse, after Douglas was dropped for the only time in the fight, midway through the seventh. O’Sullivan, 27-2 (19), who was starting to land right hands frequently in the prior two rounds, battered Douglas against the ropes with consecutive shots and the 25-year-old out of Burke, Virginia, was seemingly out on his feet before slumping to the mat. Douglas, 22-2-1 (16) got up but St-Germain saved him from himself.
There was no complaint from Douglas either, who had gotten off to a good start, with the clear edge in hand speed against O’Sullivan. Through the first three rounds, it seems as if Douglas had the ability to easily outbox the 33-year-old veteran but, far too often, he remained stationary after throwing an exchange and he wasn’t seeing the right hands coming. Before the ending, Douglas was taking the shots just fine but once O’Sullivan hurt him once, it was all but over. The defeat ends a lengthy comeback Douglas had to make, once getting brutally beaten in early 2016 by Avantdil Khurtsidze. Douglas slouching slowly to the canvas, as O’Sullivan was still throwing and landing, was a grim flashback of that night.
In the opening bout of the HBO card, junior welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr. outclassed Cletus “Hebrew Hammer” Seldin over the course of 10 rounds, leading to a unanimous decision win (99-88 on all three official scorecards).
Making his second appearance on HBO in as many months, Seldin, Brooklyn, New York, stepped into the ring looking for a fight but was quickly brought down to Earth by the boxing ability of his Canadian opponent.
Ulysse, 15-1 (9), didn’t have to be all that creative to force Seldin into a struggle. Moving his feet around the outskirts of the ring was all that was needed and, as Seldin went in for a shot, he was left wide open for counters. In the first intense exchange of the fight, Seldin was caught with a right hand that dropped him in the opening round.
Seldin, 21-1 (17), couldn’t even react to the lead left hooks with which Ulysse impaled him in the second. Soon enough, Seldin was downed again with a perfectly timed right hand and after the same thing happening in the following round, a knockout seemed imminent.
It wasn’t until the fourth when Seldin made it through a round without touching the canvas but there was tactical game plan in place to trap Ulysse. Seldin gave the impression that he was being cheated from the chance of doing what he does best but this was no club show. Ulysse, 29, was more careful as the fight led on, after Seldin gathered his bearings. It made for a dull second half of the contest but Ulysse singlehandedly exposed what was expected to be an aberration of a fighter. The final punch totals, of course, favored Ulysse: 157-42.