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Dougie’s Monday mailbag (props for Saunders, what’s next for BJ and for Lemieux?)

Billy Joe Saunders boxed a perfect fight against David Lemieux. Photo / Hoganphotos
18
Dec

SAUNDERS EARNED RESPECT

Hi Doug,

If there’s one word to describe Billy Joe Saunders as a person it’s divisive. Even in the UK he hasn’t had much credit partly due to his arrogant personality and partly due to some frankly boring, underachieving performances.

However, whether you like him or not you have to respect what he did at the weekend. Not many champions these days would defend their title away from home against one of the most dangerous guys in the division. Not only that but he also made a world-class fighter look very ordinary in a fight most people thought was 50/50. There were shades of Calzaghe v Lacy in this one-sided boxing masterclass. If there’s one word to describe Billy Joe Saunders as a boxer it’s fast! Fast hands, fast feet, fast reflexes. In fact, I think there’s a stylistic comparison to be made with Calzaghe or is that over the top?



Now it seems like even bigger fights await Billy Joe and the prospect of fights against Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs are suddenly of interest to the public and broadcasters. How do you see him doing against these guys?

As for David Lemieux, maybe he’s been shown up as a bit one dimensional but he’s in a division with arguably the top 2 P4P fighters and in BJS and Jacobs two other guys who are pushing top 10 P4P in my opinion. Like I said, we shouldn’t take anything away from BJS.

Cheers and Merry Christmas. – Mark from the UK!

We should definitely not take anything away from Saunders’ performance (which I have been accused of on Twitter – because I said I wasn’t terribly entertained by BJ’s style or by what transpired in the ring – but ironically that’s exactly what these so-called Saunders fans are doing by calling Lemieux a “bum” or “overrated”).

The 160-pound division is very strong at the top and Saunders is right in the mix of elite middleweights (GGG, Canelo and Jacobs). I think Saunders is live against the top three. In fact, I’d favor him over Canelo and I think a showdown with Jacobs is a toss-up. I’d favor Golovkin to beat him, but I don’t think GGG would look great doing so. (It might be near impossible to look good against Billy Joe’s style of fighting, but I wouldn’t mind seeing technical punchers like Sergiy Derevyanchenko or Jermall Charlo give it a try.)

I’m glad you’re not totally s__ting on Lemieux as so many others seem to be. He was woefully inept against Saunders and void of energy (would it be mean to nickname him “Listless Lemmy” after that languid effort?), but BJ – a 2008 Olympian – was dialed in and at his best. The UK standout assumed immediate control of the fight and did not allow Lemieux to gain any confidence or momentum.

As a result of what most viewed as a shutout loss, the Montrealer loses his top-five contender status and is no longer in the elite mix for now, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a factor later. I’m not trying to put any blame on Marc Ramsay, because I think the Montreal-based trainer is world class, but I think maybe Lemieux and his coach have reached that point that some boxer-trainer teams come to when the pupil is no longer listening to the teacher. It happens. Perhaps Lemieux needs a change of location and an experienced coach who specializes in aggressive fighters and rehabilitation projects – yep, I’m wondering in this public forum what Freddie Roach (who happens to have French-Canadian roots) could do with Lemieux.

Even in the UK (Suanders) hasn’t had much credit partly due to his arrogant personality and partly due to some frankly boring, underachieving performances. The wonderful thing about Saunders is that he would be the first to admit this.

However, whether you like him or not you have to respect what he did at the weekend. I respected him before the Lemieux fight, but I’ve got more now because of the risk he took and the manner in which he performed in hostile territory.

Not many champions these days would defend their title away from home against one of the most dangerous guys in the division. They generally don’t exist above featherweight.

Not only that but he also made a world-class fighter look very ordinary in a fight most people thought was 50/50. I was one of those people, and I gave Lemmy the slight edge since the fight took place in his hometown, but man, he was never in it.

There were shades of Calzaghe v Lacy in this one-sided boxing masterclass. Yeah, I sort of see what you’re getting at, but BJS isn’t the long-reigning (more than eight years) titleholder that Calzaghe was and Lemieux wasn’t a titleholder with four defenses under his belt. And I don’t think Saunders put NEAR the beating on Lemmy that Calzaghe put on poor Lacy.

If there’s one word to describe Billy Joe Saunders as a boxer it’s fast! Fast hands, fast feet, fast reflexes. Speed kills. Hall of famer Carlos Palomino (my first boxing interview for HouseofBoxing.com more than 20 years ago) described hand and foot speed is “God’s gift to boxers.”

In fact, I think there’s a stylistic comparison to be made with Calzaghe or is that over the top? They’re both smart, mobile southpaw boxers with excellent timing, but I don’t think their styles are similar. Calzaghe was far more dynamic, athletically speaking, and the Welshman dealt in high volume at a frenetic pace. Saunders likes to slow things down, disrupt rhythm and utilize a sporadic offense.

 

AN ENTERTAINING TRIPLE-HEADER

Hi Doug,

Seasons greetings to you and the family from us here in Music City. I am going to try and keep it concise this last letter of the year so here goes. I tuned in to HBO Saturday night with David Lemieux and Cletus Seldin being the only guys on the card I had seen before and was treated to three entertaining fights.

The first fight was between two lower tier fighters but never the less I was impressed with the show of basic boxing skills put on by Yves Ulysse against slugger Cletus Seldin making “The Hebrew Hammer” look like a total amateur. I had never before seen a fighter (Seldin) complain to the ref that his opponent wouldn’t stand and fight with him. Kind of funny. Side to side, basic angles and slipping in straight rights and counter left hooks, Ulysse put on a clinic and schooled Seldin in the manly art. If he had a little more power he might have gotten Seldin out of there. I think we will be seeing Ulysse again.

The second fight between Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan featured two guys I had not seen before but it was clear they knew how to fight…in the sense of stand and deliver. It became a real life version of Rock em Sock em Robots as the two traded heavy shots with not many attempts at defense. My impression as I watched was that Douglas’ head wasn’t totally into the fight like he was in a daze (I’m talking before the final flurry of shots). In the end Douglas took several shots more than he should have. I hope he’s OK. O’Sullivan opened the door to some bigger paydays in the future.

Finally, the main event. I had heard of Billy Joe Saunders but not seen him in action and my last vision of David Lemieux was his crushing KO of Curtis Stevens so I looked for ultimately more of the same. How wrong can you be? Saunders played with Lemieux putting on a master class of boxing, moving and solid punching. Lemieux was never really in it. I was disappointed that Lemieux blamed it on a left hand injury. He could have had three hands and it would not have mattered. Anyway… I came away with a new-found respect for Englishman. I’m hesitant to say how he would fare in the round robin of Triple G, Canelo and Daniel Jacobs but I want to see. Which of those three do you think would be the most exciting matchup? Lots to look forward to.

That’s it Doug. A good year for our sport and it looks like some good stuff on the horizon. Thanks for the mailbag. It has been part of my week that I look forward to for near a decade now. Thanks for letting me take part from time to time. We haven’t yet met face to face over as cold one or the dinner table (you weren’t in Las Vegas the last couple of times the wife and I were) but it will happen. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. See you in 2018. – David, Nashville

Thanks for the kind words about the mailbag column and for the holiday wishes, David. Happy holidays to you too. I’m sure we’ll have that beer sometime in 2018.

I had heard of Billy Joe Saunders but not seen him in action and my last vision of David Lemieux was his crushing KO of Curtis Stevens so I looked for ultimately more of the same. How wrong can you be? Dead wrong, but hey, that’s why the fight the fights.

Saunders played with Lemieux putting on a master class of boxing, moving and solid punching. Lemieux was never really in it. No, he wasn’t. In fact, he seemed out of it before he stepped into the ring. There was no intensity in his body language before he left the dressing room, no fire in his eyes as made his way to the ring, and no explosive aggression at the sound of the opening bell. He was listless and once BJs began to do his thing, Lemmy became clueless.

I was disappointed that Lemieux blamed it on a left hand injury. Not very classy or sportsman like, but I guess there had been too many nasty words between the two in the build-up to the fight for Lemieux to take the high road.

He could have had three hands and it would not have mattered. That’s not even an exaggeration.

I came away with a new-found respect for the Englishman. I’m hesitant to say how he would fare in the round robin of Triple G, Canelo and Daniel Jacobs but I want to see. Which of those three do you think would be the most exciting matchup? Golovkin – because of his jab and his ring-cutting ability. He would gradually force Saunders to exchange with him. Canelo’s got heavy feet and he doesn’t like to hunt mobile opponents down. And though Jacobs can fight coming forward when he wants to, he would probably adopt stick-and-move-and-counter tactics against BJS, which would probably make for a low-impact chess match.

Lots to look forward to. I think so. The middleweight division should be hot next year.

O’Sullivan vs. Douglas. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Antoine Douglas and Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan… it was clear they knew how to fight…in the sense of stand and deliver. It was an entertaining and competitive fight for three-to-four rounds, and then it was clear (to me, anyway) that Douglas was on his way to another TKO loss.

It became a real life version of Rock em Sock em Robots as the two traded heavy shots with not many attempts at defense. Douglas needed to box from a distance for the first half of this bout. Once he began to stand and exchange with O’Sullivan, it was essentially over.

My impression as I watched was that Douglas’ head wasn’t totally into the fight like he was in a daze (I’m talking before the final flurry of shots). I had the same impression from ringside (and during the international call with Beto Duran).

In the end Douglas took several shots more than he should have. I agree. I think the ref needed to be closer to the fighters once O’Sullivan had dazed Douglas against the ropes in Round 7. The poor young man was out on his feet.

I hope he’s OK. Me too, but I’m starting to think that prize fighting is no longer the right vocation for him.

O’Sullivan opened the door to some bigger paydays in the future. He would make a good comeback opponent for Lemieux, or as a stern test for unbeaten up-and-comer (and fellow Irishman) Jason Quigley (perfect matchup for St. Patrick’s Day week), or as one side of an ESPN main event (or HBO co-feature) against fellow veteran Gabriel Rosado.

I was impressed with the show of basic boxing skills put on by Yves Ulysse against slugger Cletus

Ulysse vs. Seldin. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions

Seldin making “The Hebrew Hammer” look like a total amateur. I thought Ulysse’s skills were more than basic. I was very much taken with his smooth but athletic ring savvy, and his ability to power punch on the fly.

I had never before seen a fighter (Seldin) complain to the ref that his opponent wouldn’t stand and fight with him. That was a waste of time and effort.

If (Ulysse) had a little more power he might have gotten Seldin out of there. I think the Montreal-based boxer-puncher had the power to take out Seldin, he just didn’t commit to doing so. “Junior” took his foot off the gas pedal in the middle rounds and coasted in spots down the stretch. That was the only drawback to his performance.

I think we will be seeing Ulysse again. I hope so.

 

BJS

Ok…so you didn’t put me in the mailbag last week (I’ll forgive you!) but I did predict that Billy would “box Lemieux’s head off”. I was confident because I know what the kid is capable of when he is switched on. He’s a born fighter but there is also a contradiction with him. He is a tough, rough kid from a tough place and I think this has his affected his development, like many fighters – but when he is in a professional environment where he is pushed I honestly think the sky is the limit. Well done to Ingle and his gym.

Was amused by a bashed up looking Lemieux talking about how he “ran away” all night. On the other hand, I didn’t like the taunting. Billy needs to cut that out! What is the deal with compubox saying that Lemieux had landed 42 times after the 7th round. That is a joke. What is the deal with that?!

By the way, in terms of wasted potential in boxing, who would be your number one “lost talent”? – Mark

Probably Francisco Bojado.

I did predict that Billy would “box Lemieux’s head off”. Congratulations, you called it. Your No-Prize is in the mail. Excelsior!

I was confident because I know what the kid is capable of when he is switched on. And now we all do.

He is a tough, rough kid from a tough place and I think this has his affected his development, like many fighters – but when he is in a professional environment where he is pushed I honestly think the sky is the limit. Time will tell against more complete (and mentally focused) middleweights than Lemieux.

Well done to Ingle and his gym. They know what they are doing.

Was amused by a bashed up looking Lemieux talking about how he “ran away” all night. I wasn’t.

On the other hand, I didn’t like the taunting. Billy needs to cut that out! I was OK with most of it. These guys carried a grudge into the ring and Saunders was walking the walk after talking the talk. The looking out into the audience (for the big right hand Lemmy missed him with by about a foot) schtick was priceless, like something out of a Harlem Globetrotter playbook.

What is the deal with compubox saying that Lemieux had landed 42 times after the 7th round. That is a joke. What is the deal with that?! Why are you asking me!?

 

SAUNDERS SAUNTERS TO VICTORY

Hi Dougie,

I can’t see why people didn’t see this coming? With his move to the Ingle gym he wasn’t going to get away with a pie eating preparation for this fight and on his game he has got way too much for the one dimension of Lemieux.

Speaking of the Canadian is that him done at the top level? Interesting to see where he goes from here. I like watching him fight. More so than say a Saunders. Anyway happy Christmas Dougie. – Rob

Thanks Rob. I don’t think Lemieux is done as a world-class fighter. He’s about to celebrate his 29th birthday and he hasn’t been in too many wars, so I think he’s got at least one more title run in him, but as I mentioned earlier in this mailbag column, he might need to change some things up in terms of his training situation.

I think most of us who didn’t see the schooling coming expected more from Lemieux (if not better tactics, than more intensity and sheer aggression) and simply didn’t think as highly of Saunders as others due to the Englishman’s inactivity, inconsistency and close decisions to a past-prime Andy Lee and a still-green Chris Eubank Jr. But, as it turns out, we underestimated Saunders and overestimated Lemmy.

 

SORRY FOR OVERRATING LEMIEUX

I hope all is well; I will start off by saying sorry for jumping the gun and overrating Lemieux in my message I sent after he knocked out Stevens. I thought he could KO Canelo and beat everyone in the division except for GGG. I fell for his punching power which masked his boxing limitations. Saunders exposed his lack of footwork and foot speed along with his tendency to load up on his punches and lack of punching fluidity, Saunders counter punched him all night and had Lemieux punching air for twelve rounds. I don’t see how two of the three judges even gave Lemiuex any rounds; I had it a 12-0 shutout. As for the future of the middleweight division, I think Saunders can give both Canelo and GGG problems with his hand and foot speed along with his footwork and reach although I think he loses close decisions to both of them; what do you think about those potential matchups? Finally, congrats to Saunders for outclassing Lemieux since I thought he would lose by KO.

Mythical Matchups:

Lightweight – Pernell Whittaker vs Lomachenko
SMW – Calzaghe vs Eubank Jr

Middleweight – Hopkins vs GGG

Featherweight – Henry Armstrong vs Lomachenko

Thanks. – Parvez

I’ll go with Whitaker on points (close decision), Calzaghe on points (clear-cut decision), Hopkins by decision (if it’s the 35-year-old versions of both middleweights) and Armstrong on points (competitive but clear decision).

I think a congratulations to Saunders is in order, but I don’t think you need to apologize to me or anyone else for being excited about Lemieux after he KO’d Stevens. That’s what KOs do. They get fans excited. Sometimes that excitement leads to overrating the guy who scored it. No big deal. The same thing happens with virtuoso boxing performances. Saunders pitched a shutout vs. Lemieux (I don’t see how one could score a single round for Lemmy, either), totally outclassed him. Many fans (and media) are now excited about him. They might pick him to beat Golovkin or Jacobs or Caneo or Charlo or Derevyanchenko – and they might be right, but they might be dead wrong. Those are four different style matchups than the one we witnessed on Saturday. But so what if a fan favors BJS against the best and turns out to be wrong? As Saunders told the booing crowd in Laval, “that’s boxing.” It ain’t that serious (unless you’re betting serious money on the outcomes).

 

PLEASANTLY SURPRISED

Dougie:

Long time no write, but still reading. Many blessings to you and your family this Christmas.

I had not seen BJ Saunders fight before, and have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. His footwork is excellent and has very refined boxing ability (feints, head movement, puts good 3-4 punch combinations, and is aggressive when needs to be). Overall great boxer and he kept up the stamina for 12 full rounds. I had never seen Lemiux humiliated like that, I thought he gave a good account of himself against GGG even though he was destroyed, he did not look this bad, which is a testament to BJS strategy and abilities. I see BJS as a very live dog against Danny Jacobs and Canelo, but would still give the edge to GGG.  Do you know if BJS has a good chin, it did not get tested yesterday since Lemiux did not land anything!

Certainly, this makes middleweight more interesting, I think this guy could be a very interesting dark horse in the division and could see him be very competitive and beat some of the top 3 @ 160. Christian Formby, San Juan, PR

Time will tell, Christian.

I think the most important thing for Saunders to stay active and to take advantage of the career momentum that he created with his “master class” against Lemmy. I know he called out GGG during his post-fight interview and what middleweight wouldn’t want a crack at Canelo? But the reality is that the two stars of the division are most likely going to fight again on May 5, and that rematch might lead to an immediate rubber match (ya never know!), which means Saunders is going to have to be willing to face some of the other top 160 pounders.

A showdown with Jacobs would be a big fight in England or NYC/Brooklyn, and a title defense against an explosive boxer-puncher like Jermall Charlo or a brute strong forward-marching technician like Derevyanchenko would make for highly anticipated matchups.

Let’s hope Saunders doesn’t squander his newly earned respect by sitting much of 2018 out or by defending his WBO title against unworthy challengers.

 

 

Email Fischer at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @dougiefischer

 

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