WBO middleweight king Billy Joe Saunders (25-0) will defend his crown against former IBF world champion David Lemieux (38-3) in Montreal on Saturday night.
Saunders’ trip to Canada will be his first professional bout overseas, but with a lifetime of fighting all over the world as an amateur, I doubt that will bear any impact whatsoever on his mindset or performance.
The only way it can influence the fight is if the judges are swayed by the noise of the pro-Lemieux crowd that will pack the arena in Laval and undoubtedly react raucously to every punch and forward movement of their hero.
Former world champion, Lemieux’s IBF belt was handed over to Gennady Golovkin in the eighth round in October 2015 at the Garden.
He steadily rebuilt with four straight wins – two in 2016, two in 2017 – bagging the WBO Inter-Continental belt along the way.
His three losses are at the hands of top names in the sport in Golovkin, Alcine and Rubio.
The heavy-handed home town boy has 33 KO’s from 38 wins, which is clearly impressive.
However, Saunders has never been stopped, not even hurt in his career. He is as tough as they come and I simply cannot see him being caught cleanly by the Canadian, so I rule out any chance of Lemieux adding to his KO count, especially since he has been recovering from a shoulder injury following his latest win in May.
This fight is a classic boxer vs. puncher matchup and the winner will be determined by whichever fighter can impose their game plan.
BJS is exuding confidence, lining up his next fight with either Canelo or Golovkin, and offering his opponent side bets to the tune of half a million in a winner takes all wager.
Canelo is boxing’s biggest star, while Golovkin holds the WBC, WBA and IBF belts, so you can see why the Hatfield puncher wants a career-defining fight – and purse – with either rival.
Billy Joe is not the powerful puncher that his Montreal-born opponent is, with just 12 stoppages from 25 contests, but, arguably, has the best boxing skills of any modern-day fighter right now.
The standout amateur represented Team GB for many years and has won nearly every belt available as a pro.
He is as slick and skillful as they come and can outbox Lemieux all day long.
Many question what version of Billy Joe will turn up on the night to his fights as we have witnessed under-par performances when he hasn’t conditioned himself appropriately. There’s been opponents during his career that haven’t motivated him enough and it’s been crudely visible in his presentations.
There’s no need for doubts tonight because BJS is up for this bout as he knows it could lead to the dream fight he has been pursuing for years now.
He should outbox the Canadian handily in front of his own fans. The Canuck will likely try to wipe him out with the one finishing blow, but Saunders will be the hardest opponent of his career to nail clean.
I expect Saunders to box clever and stick to his game plan throughout, and consequently win the fight by unanimous decision.