On Saturday, December 16, 2017, Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) put his WBO Middleweight title on the line against David Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs).
The bout headlined an HBO tripleheader from Place Bell in Quebec.
Saunders, the slick southpaw, landed consistently throughout an evenly matched first frame. Lemieux picked up steam entering Round 2, however, earning Saunders’ respect with heavy right hands.
Saunders connected with the fight’s most significant punch in Round 2, a left straight that appeared to stun Lemieux.
The pro-Lemieux crowd booed at times and accused Saunders of running, but he was in his comfort zone all night and easily avoided and heavy shots from Lemieux for the majority of the fight.
Saunders, who was fighting outside of the UK for the first time, seemed happy with his performance.
“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 he told me to take my time, and that was the best advice.”
Lemieux on the otherhand blamed his ineffectiveness on a possible injury to his left hand. Lemieux also criticized Saunders’ boxing–calling it running.
“I wasn’t at my best. Hats off to Billy Joe [Saunders],” said Lemieux. “From the second round on, I could not use my left hand the way I wanted, and he was on the run, so I had a hard time throwing my shots. It wasn’t my best night. A lot of this was because of me, because I couldn’t use my left hand the way I wanted to. He was running from the first round to the end, and I guess that’s his strategy to win. If this is the way you want to win, then congratulations.”
All photos by Ed Mulholland/HBO