By Luke Furman
The World Boxing Organization has announced that a deal was reached for WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders to make a mandatory defense against David Lemieux of Canada. A planned purse bid has been canceled.
According to TVA Sports, the fight will indeed land at Place Bell in Laval, Canada on December 16th. HBO will televise the fight.
If the fight would have went to a purse bid, Saunders would have received 70 percent of the winning bid and Lemieux would have received the remaining 30 percent.
Lemieux and his manager, Camille Estephan of Eye of The Tiger Management, also confirmed that a deal had been reached and the contracts were signed for the contest.
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. Several planned fights have fallen through due to injuries of circumstances beyond the control of Saunders or his promoter, Frank Warren.
The with Lemieux represents one of the most dangerous opponents of his career. Besides the win over Lee, Saunders is the only man to defeat current IBO super middleweight champion Chris Eubank Jr.
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.
Lemieux is also a former IBF middleweight world champion. He captured the title in 2015, following a victory against Hassan N'Dam (who now holds the WBA "regular" title). A few months later, however, is when the boxer lost that IBF strap in the unification with Golovkin on HBO Pay Per View from New York's Madison Square Garden.
Luke Furman covers boxing for bokser.org.