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Billy Joe Saunders: ‘I’m good enough to beat Golovkin and Canelo, so why worry about Lemieux?’

Photo courtesy of frankwarren.com
18
Oct

You can’t take anything for granted in the fight game. Just ask Billy Joe Saunders.

The unbeaten WBO middleweight titleholder looked drab and listless in his first title defense against Artur Akavov last December. This was not the defensive whiz who defused Chris Eubank Jr. and handed him his first defeat. This was not the crafty southpaw who floored and outpointed Andy Lee to win the title he so desperately craved.

In a small leisure center in Paisley, Scotland, Saunders came close to defeat against a vastly inferior fighter. He received a close unanimous decision win and one almighty shock.

Changes were required and they have now been implemented. Saunders, from Hatfield, England, has now settled with esteemed coach Dominic Ingle and, once again, he’s pushing his body to the limit in training camp. There has also been serious focus placed on nutrition to help combat the rigors of making weight.

Last month, Saunders, who is rated No. 4 by THE RING at 160 pounds, returned to action and outpointed American Willie Monroe Jr. without getting out of second gear. It wasn’t a vintage performance — far from it — but it was good enough on that particular night and there was improvement from the Akavov fight. It might not be enough next time.

On December 16, Saunders will make the third defense of his title against David Lemieux in Montreal, Canada. Where Monroe was all quickness and craft, Lemieux is all concussive power and violence.

“He’s got a good record, but he built most of that record in Canada,” said Saunders in an interview with RingTV.com. “He’s boxed (Gennady) Golovkin, who’s a come-forward fighter, and he scored a great knockout over Curtis Stevens. But Lemieux hasn’t boxed anyone as slick as me.

“In the middleweight division, there’s me, Canelo (Alvarez), Golovkin, (Daniel) Jacobs and Lemieux. It’s good to see two of the top five fighting each other. Right now, I’m middleweight champion of the world and you need to take these big tests and go on the road to prove yourself. They offered me seven figures and I can’t say no because I think I’m good enough to beat Canelo and Golovkin, so why should I worry about him? Lemieux and his team have paid big money. They’ve paid to play, so let’s go.”

They have indeed. Saunders (25-0, 12 knockouts) has been promised a “seven-figure payday,” and with that kind of money, the 28-year-old stylist can secure his family’s future. However, there are many who believe that the Englishman has bitten off more than he can chew and that he will earn every cent against one of the division’s biggest hitters.

“He can punch, but let’s not forget, when he stepped up, Golovkin dealt with him like a child,” said Saunders with disdain. “He had his chance against Golovkin and now we know how good he is. We know that at his very best, he’s not good enough.

“When Lemieux fought Golovkin, he had someone who was there to be hit. Golovkin is always there to be hit by big punches, and even he got out the way of Lemieux’s shots. Golovkin is one of those fighters: ‘You hit me with two, I’ll hit you with three. You hit me with one, I’ll hit you with two.’”

Golovkin stopped Lemieux in the eighth round of an IBF and WBA unification fight in October 2015. Southpaw Saunders doesn’t come close to having GGG’s hitting power, but he is quick of hand and foot and, as he points out, extremely hard to find.

“I’m a much better defensive fighter than Golovkin,” said Saunders without hesitation. “I know what Lemieux’s weaknesses are and I know what he’s good at. It’s my job to expose him. I will be switching things up in there.

“In terms of power, when I hit a fighter, they know they’ve been hit and they don’t want to get hit again. Nobody likes to get hit. When I dig them in, it may not look much, but it’s the sort of power that will hold you off. And if you don’t back off, you’ll get hit again, and again. Or you might get dropped. I will catch you clean.”

There was a buzz about Saunders that’s been missing for a long time. Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) represents the Englishman’s most significant test since he defeated Lee in December 2015 and Saunders spoke with the determination of a fighter who is thirsty for combat. That’s good, because Lemieux will bring plenty of ammunition.

One thing Saunders was skeptical about, however, is a hometown decision. He referenced the Canelo-Golovkin draw and was outspoken regarding his fear of being on the end of a controversial verdict.

“I personally think there was more than just a fight behind that decision,” said Saunders, who holds the only world title belt that was not on the line that night in Las Vegas. “In my eyes, Golovkin won clearly by four rounds. He deserved the win.

“I want to make it very clear to everyone that I want a fair decision (against Lemieux). If it does go to points, hopefully the Canadians are fair to me. If I win fair and square, then I expect (the victory). If I get beat, then I’ll shake Lemieux’s hand. I know what I’m capable of and I’m going for it.”

 

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

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  • Guy Grundy

    Hmmm….I don’t think so, Billy Joe.

    • Arjay Cee

      Neither do I.

      BJS has two stinkers on his record in his last two outings, which amount to all the fighting he’s done since the impressive Andy Lee win two years ago. He barely survived against the unknown Artur Akavov and then he put in a dull, timid performance against a gun-shy Willie Monroe Jr. Neither was remotely enough to hang with Golovkin. They might not be enough to hang with Lemieux.

      Lemieux is pretty one-dimensional, but I doubt Saunders can risk slowing down long enough to hurt him. It’ll be a Road Runner night.

      • Mauro Hermida

        The Lee win wasn’t impressive. I take it you watched the fight. It didn’t put you to sleep? I wouldn’t call Lemmy one dimensional. He isn’t very defensive minded, but he has good hand speed, puts his punches together well, and throws with max leverage. He has good technique. Im sure Saunders will do all he can to avoid exchanges.

        • Arjay Cee

          Two knockdowns of a guy with a 75% KO rate aren’t impressive? I like high-risk boxing, and boxers vs. punchers are my favorite matchups.

          Re: Lemmy’s “good” skills. They’re definitely skills good enough to handle boxers at the level of N’Dam, Stevens, Tapia, Rosado. Two years ago, I think Saunders would have out-maneuvered and out-landed Lemieux with superior boxing and movement, and he still might. But David’s fought the better competition since then, stayed in shape and has the fight in his back yard. I doubt BJS has enough left to outclass him. Who are you picking?

  • Turner Wednesday

    Where does he say he’s good enough to beat GGG and Canelo? The headline is misleading.

    • Dee Money

      Yeah, my thoughts exactly. He seemed straight up and on point here.

      • Tom Gray

        Hey Dee. I must have removed the quote and forgot to stick it back in. My fault. It’s been fixed.

        • Dee Money

          There we go, now that reads a lil more like Saunders

          • Tom Gray

            Hahahahahahaha. To be fair, Saunders saying “The top two middleweights in the world would kick my ass” wouldn’t get him very far.

      • ceylon mooney

        kinda refreshing to read these comments from BJS.

    • Tom Gray

      Hey pal. I honestly have no idea how I managed that? I must have chosen to move the quote and forgot to replace it. Saunders definitely said it and it was the standout statement of the interview. I’l make a change on this. Thanks for highlighting that.

      • Turner Wednesday

        No problem! Thanks for being so gracious Tom.

    • Tom Gray

      That’s it fixed mate. Sorry once again. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my time, but that was a new one.

      • Stephen M

        I always tell my clients that 25 years of experience means 25 years of mistakes that I won’t make again. I can however make new ones…

      • Turner Wednesday

        You are forgiven, Tom. Just for balance, you are one of my favourite boxing writers. Keep up the good work! You are appreciated 🙂

    • Guy Grundy

      if only Chansiri was as on the ball as you are ! 😉

      • Turner Wednesday

        Hahahaha! Great point sir.

  • Joey Junger

    Regardless of the outcome, Lemieux should probably step up in weight after this fight. He struggled on the scales when he was younger, and he’s only filled out since then. Pretty much everything Saunders said has some basis in fact, but it also ignores the old adage that styles make fights. Applying his logic, we would have expected Lemieux to have more trouble with Curtis Stevens than Golovkin did, since Golovkin is obviously better than both Lemieux and Stevens. And we saw how Lemieux-Stevens worked out.

    • Luca Blight

      Problem is, Lemieux is already a small middleweight, what more at super middleweight. He doesn’t have enough in the skills department to compete against way bigger guys in my opinion.

    • Mauro Hermida

      Yeah, you gotta wonder how much he will have left in this fight. He has had stamina issues in the past from struggling to make weight, so I wonder if he wont try to go for broke in the first half. I hope he can make it safely and have the energy to go a hard 12.

      • Joey Junger

        Lemieux will stay at 160 lbs. because that is where the big name/money fights are for him. There’s no mystery about how he matches up with Golovkin, but the phrase “puncher’s chance” comes to mind when you bring up anyone else in the division. I somehow don’t think Gabe Rosado is eager to trade leather with him again, despite having a good outing tonight against solid gatekeeper Glen Tapia.

  • Droeks Malan

    Bla,bla, nla.. Ok, fine BJS, prove it! The LeMieux fight will show us where he is at.

  • Mauro Hermida

    Heres hoping Lemmy forces a fights and puts him to sleep. I don’t care for bragging types that haven’t backed things up. I have a feeling he will really try to stink out the joint. If he fights like that, he will not get a decision.

    • philoe bedoe

      If Lemieux does manage to beat Billie Joe, I hope someone else takes the belt from him before GGG or Canelo wants to unify the belts.
      Don’t want to see another beat down like GGG gave Lemeiux again.
      Nothing worse than a passive boxer in the build up and in the ring……….

  • wrecksracer

    BJS has a way of taking a potentially entertaining fight and making it dull as possible. I thought his fight with Andy Lee was going to be great, but look how it turned out. This could end up the same way.

  • Steve

    I hope if Saunder’s kid steps out of line again at the weigh-in that Lemiux gives him a whack. And it would drive last minute PPV sales through the roof.

  • Kiowhatta

    Like Mauro said, I hope Saunders doesn’t just get on his bicycle and turn it into an ugly clinch fest, with Saunders occasionally landing here and there, with Lemmy chasing him round the ring all night.
    If the fight does turn out that way, he gets the close decision, it will, I expect turn fans against him, much like some of Floyd’s cynical tactics that got him the nod in ugly fights.
    That being said, Lemmy hopefully has worked on his footwork and speed to better his chances of catching the awkward southpaw.

  • tom lloyd

    Lemieux will hunt him down and bully him. No more pitter patter punches, BillyHo.

  • The Parrfection

    BILLY JOE SAUNDERS: “I‘M GOOD ENOUGH TO BEAT GOLOVKIN AND CANELO, SO WHY WORRY ABOUT LEMIEUX?”

    And in related news…

    BRUCE JENNER: “I’M A GIRL.”