A mixed bag in Laval
In the last major televised show in the States for 2017, an HBO tripleheader took place from the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada (about a half hour from Montreal) featuring the WBO middleweight title bout between Billy Joe Saunders and local favorite David Lemieux.
What was thought to be an even match-up, coming into this bout, was instead a one-sided blowout in favor of the British southpaw, who simply boxed circles around the lethargic Lemieux for 12 repetitive rounds.
Quite frankly, while Saunders looked sharp and effective, Lemieux looked bloated and impotent, as he would’ve needed radar to find Billy Joe inside that ring. In the past (actually just last year), Saunders had struggled versus rather non-descript opposition but, on this night, it was a focused and disciplined outing from the bombastic Saunders, who served notice that he’s more than just another beltholder.
The official scores of 120-108, 117-111 and 118-110 were actually charitable for Lemieux and didn’t really show just how dominant Saunders was.
“I knew what sort of fighter David Lemieux is and I knew what sort of coach he’s got,” said Saunders. “I knew what he was coming for. I look easy to hurt but you can’t hit me. I like going to somebody’s backyard because I perform better. I’m a whole different animal now. When I hurt David, I wanted to put it on him. I really did but that’s what I pay my trainer Dominic Ingle to do. I went to put it on him but (Ingle) told me to take my time and that was the best advice.”
And Billy Joe being Billy Joe said, during this interview, with HBO’s Max Kellerman, “I know you’re booing me because I whooped your fighter’s ass…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’ (Alvarez) fight me NOW!”
Later he called out Gennady Golovkin – who has the other three major belts in the division – who will most likely face Canelo Alvarez again next May. That said, it’s not clear what Saunders (who is promoted by Frank Warren) will do to kick off his 2018 campaign. There is no doubt that, based on his strong showing, this weekend, he is now a viable option for the winner of the Canelo-“GGG” rematch, as he possesses the last remaining belt in the division.
Regardless, he is now in the mix for significant fights and someone to (finally) take seriously.
– As Antoine Douglas was bludgeoned by Avtandil Khurtsidze back in March of 2016, I wrote that this was perhaps the type of beating that irrevocably alters or prematurely shortens a career and it was evident early on – as pointed out by HBO’s Roy Jones Jr. – that he was a spent bullet. Douglas was beaten down by the hard-nosed Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan in seven rounds.
A career that showed promise, not too long ago, was extinguished in a single loss. No, it doesn’t necessarily signal the end for Douglas (although many would opine that it probably should) but he’s now an old-and-broken-down 25. We’ve seen this before, with Fernando Vargas (after his battle with Felix Trinidad), Glen Tapia (who was never the same after the beating he took from James Kirkland) and Davey Moore (in the wake of getting tortured by Roberto Duran).
Sometimes a corner don’t just lose a fight on a particular evening – but an entire career.
As for O’Sullivan, he is a fan-friendly fighter who makes for good TV and, while he probably isn’t truly a world-class middleweight, he’s the type of guy who can be matched on a certain level and he’ll give you your money’s worth.
– They say there are levels to this game and that was certainly the case as junior welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr. gave Cletus Seldin a harsh dose of reality in the HBO opener. Ulysse (who back in March stopped undefeated Golden Boy Promotions prospect Zachary Ochoa) was simply a few cuts above the hard-hitting-but-crude Seldin, who had no answer for the quick, striking punches of Ulysse, who scored knockdowns in the first three rounds and cruised to a dominant victory.
Before the fight, HBO brought up the fact that Seldin was among the very few boxers (alongside Roy Jones Jr. and Mike Tyson) to make appearances on HBO in consecutive months. Well, after this weekend, it may be his final time on the network.
The best fight of the weekend – and the best of December – took place, on Friday night, from the Pioneer Event Center in Lancaster, California, where junior welterweight John Molina Jr. and Ivan Redkach engaged in a memorable slugfest that saw Molina hit the deck in the second round, in which he was nearly finished off. But then, in the third round, he returned the favor and then stopped Redkach in the fourth.
Here’s some clips of the carnage:
With all his technical flaws, Molina – who changes trainers more often than George Steinbrenner did managers in the ’80s – is never fully in control of any fight but, as Redkach found out, with his raw-boned power, is never completely out of one either.
Lightweight prospect Ryan Garcia, who improved to 13-0 (12) by stopping Noe Martinez in eight rounds in Laval, will be someone to watch in 2018…Jessie Vargas shook off some rust by going the full 10-round distance against Aaron Herrera on Friday night in Lancaster…The “Legion of Boom” is now officially dead in Seattle…The Rams are very, very real…Yes, college bowl season has already begun…”A Football Life” on NFL Network on John Randle was incredible, truly an amazing journey…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.