By Scoop Malinowski
The last major fight of 2017 takes place this weekend in Laval, Quebec with a prominent champion attempting to thwart a hungry and driven contender looking to regain a world title. It’s a classic boxer vs puncher styles contrast, a matador vs raging bull contest of wills.
WBO middleweight world champion Billy Joe Saunders of England will face Canada’s big punching David Lemieux on Saturday night in Laval, Quebec. The fight has turned into a heated grudge match with Saunders declaring he will put Lemieux “out like a candle.”
“I’m a fighting man, a gypsy warrior, and I’ll travel anywhere on the planet to defend my World Title,” said Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs), who will try to make Lemieux his third successful title defense. “I’m heading into the lion’s den this weekend, Lemieux will have the whole arena behind him but that won’t make one ounce of a difference, I’ll thrive off their hate for me. Once that bell goes it’s just me and him stood in that ring, he’s in for one hell of a tough night. I know I will have 13,000 or 14,000 people against me on Saturday night but I can perform under that kind of pressure. I’ve boxed since I was sixteen all over the world, that was as an amateur but you still get that same fear factor, winning or losing, and traveling away to fights.”
Lemieux (38-3, 33 KO’s) has expressed a distaste for Saunders’ character, promising to ‘do everyone a favor’ by ‘getting rid’ of the mouthy Brit. The Montreal, Quebec native is a known power puncher, especially his left hooks. Though there are still some question by ring observers regarding the stamina of Lemieux, especially against good movers like Saunders, has has compiled an impressive 33 stoppage wins against losses to Gennady Golovkin and Marco Antonio Rubio. Something in Saunders has triggered Lemieux’s beast mode as the usually low-key Canadian said this week he can’t wait to “do damage” to Saunders and that his fists will violently send the champion to “hit the floor.”
Saunders has also deployed provocative words this week in the pre-fight hype build-up, sending a confident message to Lemieux by boldly promising to hand over his “entire fight purse” if Lemieux can knock him out.
“Lemieux shows a lot of heart when he comes to fight but the real truth is, I’m too slick and too good for him,” said champion Saunders. “People bang on about him being this monster puncher but you can’t hit what you can’t see – we’re going to play a game of eat the jab and then I’m going to put him out like a candle! I’m in this game to take on the best and once I’ve wiped out ‘little legs’ I’m coming for Canelo (Alvarez) and Golovkin.”
All this verbal heat simmering around this clash of 160-pound titans has generated anticipation, curiosity and buzz among boxing props with heavy wagering reflecting the compelling war of words which has become a defining aspect of this fistic confrontation.
The two gladiators continued to speak with unbreakable confidence and fighting spirit:
Billy Joe Saunders: “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. 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.”
David Lemieux: “The time to talk is over and now it’s time to let the fists do the talk and show you who the real world champion is. A lot of things are going to happen on Saturday, but my promise to you is that by the time I will leave (the arena), I will have the WBO belt on me. 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 and put them together again this Saturday.”