Saunders seeks to defend title in Lemieux’s back yard
Boxing champion Billy Joe Saunders hopes that new surroundings brings out the best in him as he puts his World Boxing Organization middleweight title on the line against David Lemieux.
The 28-year-old Englishman will fight for the first time in North America on Saturday as he faces the Canadian at the Laval Place Bell arena in Lemieux’s home province of Quebec.
“I’m used to fighting outside the U.K.. I’m a traveler of the world,” Saunders said. “I don’t care if there’s a million people (cheering for Lemieux). It’s just me and him in that ring, end of the story.”
Boxing promoter Frank Warren said Saunders won’t be intimidated by the atmosphere.
“This is a tough fight in the other guy’s back yard, but this is what Bill wanted,” Warren said.
Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) is hoping to rely on his ring savvy and boxing skills to disarm the explosive punching power of Lemieux, who has 33 knockouts in 38 victories.
“(He’s been winning) against bums, knocking out old men,” Saunders said of Lemieux.
In his last fight in September, Saunders made his second defence of his title against Willie Monroe.
He won the WBO title by outpointing Ireland’s Andy Lee two years ago.
Saunders holds the only world title in his weight class that is not in the hands of Gennady Golovkin.
Golovkin is in talks for a rematch with Canelo Alvarez on May 5 and if the pieces fall together, the winner of Saturday’s bout could challenge in a unification fight against Golovkin or Alvarez in September.
Lemieux has recorded four straight wins since being stopped in the eighth round by Golovkin two years ago.
In his last fight, Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) outpointed Marcos Reyes at Las Vegas’s T-Mobile Arena in May.
Lemieux is so confident of a victory that he boasted it would take a low blow from a baseball bat for him to lose to Saunders.
“I don’t know how he can say that he will knock me out. He’s going to hit me in the crotch with a baseball bat? There’s no way Saunders is going to drop me. But if he somehow makes it to the end of the fight, I promise he’ll be in the hospital.”
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