By Luke Furman
Last week, BoxingScene.com reported that the World Boxing Organization sent a letter to Billy Joe Saunders' promoter Frank Warren, advising him that a mandatory defense of the WBO middleweight crown was being ordered against David Lemieux of Canada.
The sanctioning organization said Warren and Golden Boy have 30 days to make a deal - by November 9. If they can not make a deal by then, a purse bid will be ordered. Although if one of the parties is not satisfied with the negotiating process, they can request an immediate purse bid date. The minimum bid would be $200,000.
If the fight goes to a purse bid or the parties make a deal, the fight will probably be worth much more than the minimum bid amount with Saunders as the champion, he has the right to receive 70 percent of the winning bid and Lemieux would get the remaining 30 percent.
According to Camille Estephan, the manager and co-promoter of Lemieux, the negotiations are going well for a date of December 16 in Laval, Canada.
"The negotiations are going well," says Estephan to Radio Canada. "We are more advanced [in the negotiations] than we thought we'd be at this moment. We hope to be able to finalize, in the next few days, an agreement for a world championship bout between Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux, on December 16 at Bell Place."
HBO is very interested in picking up Lemieux's return for December 16. There are already two potential opponents that HBO approved for the date, but they went to see him face Saunders.
When Saunders vs. Lemieux was ordered, Estephan says HBO was made aware that a bigger budget would be required in order to get this fight done - and the network appears to be on board with that request.
"When Saunders [was ordered to fight David], it was pointed out to HBO that it was the type of opportunity where we needed an increased budget," says Estephan. "This is where things have advanced really fast [in our negotiations]."
Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs), 28-years-old, won a 160 pound belt by majority decision against Andy Lee in December 2015 and has made two defenses, one against Artur Akavov in December and another against Willie Monroe Jr. on September 16.
Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs), 28, of Montreal, is a dangerous puncher. He has won four straight fights since being stopped by Gennady Golovkin in the eighth round in October 2015. In March, Lemieux scored a third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens in a contender for knockout of the year, and then followed that up with a 10-round decision victory against Marcos Reyes on May 6 on Canelo Alvarez-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. undercard.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.