The Big Question: Saunders vs Lemieux - who wins?
Boxing Monthly's number four and six rated middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and David Lemieux meet on Saturday night in Montreal. We asked our online team which man they think will prevail in this intriguing contest...
If the best BJS turns up, he beats Lemieux comfortably over 12 rounds. If the occasion gets to him and he takes a risk, it could be a knockout finish for the Canadian. I would say the comfortable money sits on Saunders by about four clear rounds. - Paul Zanon
This should be a breakout fight for the slick Saunders and introduce him to a wider audience. Saunders is, however, a Jekyll and Hyde character who in the wrong shape and mentality will be ripe for the taking. Fighting on the road is also, historically, a tough ask for British fighters in well-matched world title fights. Most fall short or scrape by. Lemieux brings power, but predictability. Saunders is a highly gifted boxer with southpaw smarts and a solid chin though questionable stamina. But since moving away from home distractions to link up with new trainer Dominic Ingle in Sheffield - he seems rejuvenated. I see Saunders boxing his way into a commanding lead and fading down the stretch before prevailing on the cards. - Mark Butcher
This seems like the perfect fight for Saunders and the exact type of opponent that he can really shine against. Saunders seems to be far more aware of the danger that Lemieux possesses than the other way around, and that’s one of the worst things that the Canadian could do. BJS has shown against Eubank Jr and Andy Lee that he can make high level opponents look foolish at times and I think we’ll see a performance in Canada that largely replicates the early stages of the bout in which he first won his WBO title. Saunders via decision. - Luke Byron
Saunders on points: Close, unanimous, and not without shaky moments... - Colin Harris
A fascinating fight, and one that I cannot wait for.
This could be another fight of two halves for Saunders with the champion running away with the early rounds only to be pegged back in the second half of the bout. Saunders has faced power punchers before but he can't go into his shell against Lemeiux late on like he did against Andy Lee, for example, when he won the title a couple of years ago. But that was then and this is now, and in a short space of time new trainer Dominic Ingle has worked his magic.
Saunders appears to be rejuvenated and excited. If a fight like this doesn't light a spark in him then nothing will. Lemieux is 1-1 over the 12-round distance and if he can't hurt Saunders and come up with a 'plan B' then Saunders can control proceedings to take a unanimous decision. However, the crowd in Canada will play their part and Lemieux's style will work with the judges if Saunders is only making him miss and not making him pay.
The champion still needs to convince doubters and the shoddy showing against Akavov still lingers, as does the fade down the stretch against Lee and Eubank Jr. This prompts Lemieux fans to wonder why some think Saunders will just box his way comfortably to another win.
I think Saunders outsmarts Lemieux early, absorbs the challenger's best artillery but will likely give ground in the second half of the fight. Saunders by split decision. - Shaun Brown
Usually this time of year is when the boxing calendar starts to wind down so it’s a welcome treat to have this world title fight between arguably two of the top five middleweights in the world. Billy Joe Saunders' win over Andy Lee should have led to fame and riches but was instead followed by a spell of inactivity and a sub par performance (vs Artur Akavov). Since a more comprehensive win vs Willie Monroe Jnr, BJS looks rejuvenated, in shape and in a positive frame of mind. All of this positivity will be needed against Lemieux who, as well as being the home fighter, is a monstrous puncher and has a solid work rate. This fight, looks on paper to be Saunders’ toughest test but it looks like it’s arrived right on time. Lemieux will be massive at the weight and will be looking to take BJS out but his footwork and underrated chin will see Saunders through to a wide unanimous decision win. - Callum Rudge
This fight will be decided between Billy Joe Saunders' boxing craft and Lemieux's destructive power. After scoring the KO Of The Year against Curtis Stevens in March, many feel Lemieux will KO Saunders. I'm not so sure. 'Superb' Saunders has shown a good chin thus far (although he's never faced a puncher like the Canadian) on top of his spoiling ability. Look for Saunders to stink out the joint as he pot-shots, holds, mauls and runs his way to a points win. - Michael Montero
I think this is a tricky assignment for Saunders. The Briton is under-rated and under-valued, and has a decent collection of victims on his CV, but facing Lemieux on away turf is tough. If Saunders can weather the early storm then he should be too slick for Lemieux and win over 12 - particularly as the Canadian's power doesn't often shine late on in his fights. However, I've got a feeling that the year will end with a bang - and an upset - with Lemieux finding a huge punch or two and forcing a wild TKO victory sometime before the end of the halfway point. - Luke G. Williams
Final count: Saunders 7 Lemieux 1