By Keith Idec
David Lemieux is more than confident he’ll become not only the first professional opponent to beat Billy Joe Saunders, but that he’ll knock out the WBO middleweight champion.
Lemieux challenged Saunders during their final press conference Thursday at the Laval Sheraton to back up all of the trash the brash British champion has talked during the buildup toward their fight Saturday night in Laval, Quebec. They’ll meet in a 12-round, 160-pound championship match at Place Bell, a new arena near Lemieux’s hometown of Montreal (HBO; 9:40 p.m. ET).
“The talk is done now,” Lemieux said. “It’s time to walk the walk. He has a strong jaw, Saunders. That’s for sure. He can put those words together. He called me frog and short legs. It’s pretty funny, but I don’t get it. But it’s pretty funny. Let’s see how you back up those words this Saturday.”
The odds on Saunders-Lemieux are just about even, despite that England’s Saunders has traveled to Lemieux’s territory for the third defense of a WBO title he won from Andy Lee in December 2015. The left-handed Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) is a better boxer than Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs), but the hard-hitting Lemieux is one of the most powerful punchers in boxing.
“Yes, I’m very well aware of your abilities,” Lemieux said. “I hope you’re aware of mine. I’m not just a puncher. But you’ll see on Saturday. It’s gonna be a great night of boxing. The fans are gonna be pleased. They wanna see some guys fight. People like to see blood. People like to see blood and big punches. That’s what they’re gonna see on Saturday, on my behalf at least.”
Lemieux is 4-0 since IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC champion Gennady Golovkin stopped him in the eighth round of their October 2015 middleweight title unification fight at Madison Square Garden.
“David’s gotta come from round one to try and knock me out,” Saunders said Thursday. “Because when he’s hitting air, he’s very injury-prone. Hands, shoulders. As we seen from a good friend of mine, James DeGale. Rushed an injury back, didn’t pan out [against Caleb Truax on Saturday]. So what I don’t want from David’s team is an excuse.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.