By Keith Idec
Dominic Ingle always saw an enormous amount of potential in Billy Joe Saunders.
The man who has trained Saunders for his past two fights also knew it was going to take someone determined to convince Saunders to change his habits both in and out of the ring before he could maximize his talents. Ingle didn’t think he would get that chance, but the British trainer is thankful that promoter Frank Warren offered him that opportunity earlier this year.
The undefeated Saunders’ stock among media and fans is more valuable now that he dominated David Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs) in their middleweight title fight Saturday night in Laval, Quebec, Canada. The elusive, intelligent southpaw picked apart Lemieux for 12 rounds and Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs) easily won a unanimous decision in a fight HBO broadcast from Place Bell (120-108, 118-110, 117-111).
“I just thought if somebody gets hold of that guy, you know, and tells him, ‘You can’t fight like that, you can’t live like that,’ he’s gonna be a superstar,” Ingle told BoxingScene.com after Saunders beat Lemieux. “And it never crossed my mind that I was gonna train him. But if there was one fighter in all of Britain I could pick – not Anthony Joshua, not Tyson Fury. It would be Billy Joe Saunders because he’s got the boxing style that is synonymous with our gym. You know, the Naseem Hameds, the Ryan Rhodes, the Junior Witters. He’s got the style to box, to hit, not get hit, and he’s entertaining to watch. He’s not just an attacking fighter.
“So when Frank Warren phoned me and said, ‘I want you to train this kid,’ you know, I was rubbing my hands thinking, ‘It’s a big task. He’s been out for six months. We’re gonna have to put everything into this guy. We can’t make a slip.’ Because if he gets beat, you know, he’s jumped camps and we’re all gonna look foolish. But this is the second fight we’ve had, he’s coming to the guy’s backyard, he took a risk and it’s paid off. It was a boxing master class.”
The superb performance Saunders produced Saturday night was what Ingle envisioned he could do at the elite level when he first started watching the 2008 Olympian box.
“Listen, it’s never been in doubt that Billy’s got the boxing ability,” Ingle said. “He’s always had boxing ability. I can remember him, you know, in the amateurs, coming through. I remember seeing his name in the trade, boxing magazines, and what a talent he was. And then he just seemed to – he turned professional and I had a few guys fight him. I was in the opposite corner, and you could see that he had the raw talent. But he never produced on the night. He always seemed to leave something. And you tend to see with guys who’ve got talent, that they rely on the talent more than they rely on the fitness.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.