We make our pick for the WBO middleweight title fight in Canada, as Saunders defends his belt for the third time.
Billy Joe Saunders v David Lemieux
Saunders’ third WBO middleweight title defence should be by far his toughest yet, as he travels to Canada to face former IBF champion Lemieux.
If Saunders is going to keep his belt, he’s going to have to put together his best performance in a couple of years.
He hasn’t impressed in his last two fights, against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr., and has shown a tendency to fade after a good start.
The Englishman led comfortably against Chris Eubank Jr. in 2014, but could only scrape a split decision after being outworked in the later rounds.
The same happened in a majority decision victory against Andy Lee a year later.
Like former super-middleweight champion James DeGale, Saunders has been getting by in his past few bouts without performing anywhere near his best.
And, like DeGale, it could easily result in him losing his belt on Saturday night.
Lemieux is a big, tough middleweight with a fantastic record of 33 knockouts from 38 wins, and he’ll benefit from fighting in his home country.
The 28-year-old hasn’t been beaten in Canada since he lost to Joachim Alcine seven years ago.
Gennady Golovkin is the only fighter to beat Lemieux in his last 14 fights, and even in that bout the Canadian performed well against arguably the world’s best boxer.
Lemieux’s knockout power means he will be dangerous throughout this fight, and, even if Saunders dominates early on, he essentially needs a mistake-free 12 rounds to guarantee victory.
One slip will give Lemiuex an opportunity, and Saunders’ recent lacklustre performances suggest that he will eventually leave a gap.
A late stoppage win for the home fighter is the likeliest outcome.
Lemieux to win –
Over 9.5 rounds –
Lemieux to win in rounds 10-12 –