David Lemieux, right, from Laval, Que., squares off with Billy Joe Saunders, from Great Britain, at their pre-bout news conference Thursday, in Laval, Quebec. The two boxers will fight Saturday, for the WBO middleweight championship. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

David Lemieux, right, from Laval, Que., squares off with Billy Joe Saunders, from Great Britain, at their pre-bout news conference Thursday, in Laval, Quebec. The two boxers will fight Saturday, for the WBO middleweight championship. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Lemieux hopes top preparation, home ring advantage trump WBO champ Saunders

LAVAL, Que. — There is no shortage of confidence from either British champion Billy Joe Saunders or Canadian challenger David Lemieux going into their bout for the World Boxing Organization middleweight title.

Lemieux (38-3, 33 knockouts) figures home ring advantage and his punching power mixed with improved technique will win the day over the defence and frustrating tactics of Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) when they meet on Saturday night before an expected sellout crowd of about 9,000 at Place Bell arena.

Saunders is already looking ahead to a big money bout against one of the current middleweight kings — Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan or Saul (Canelo) Alvarez of Mexico — but needs to get through former International Boxing Federation champion Lemieux first.

“The more he underestimates me the more it will work against him,” Lemieux said Thursday. “If he thinks I’m just a puncher, he’ll find out different on Saturday.”

There was trash talk on social media between the two 28-year-olds leading up to the fight and more in meetings with the media this week.

Saunders objected to a Tweet from Lemieux that threatened to kill him in the ring, while Lemieux was upset by the Briton’s use a slur against French Canadians. Lemieux is of French-Canadian and Armenian-Lebanese descent.

Saunders was reportedly already in trouble with boxing authorities at home over a sexist Tweet.

“What really bothered me is that this is a world champion — he should have some respect for the title,” said promoter Camille Estaphan. “To be issuing a statement such as (an ethnic slur) or the degrading he’s done with women, this is not what we want to project in boxing.

“Part of David’s motivation is ‘I want to get this guy out of there. He’s embarrassing us.’”

Lemieux won the IBF title from Hassam N’Dam at the Bell Centre in Montreal in 2015, but instead of milking the title against a couple of easy opponents, went straight into a bout with Golovkin three months later and got crushed in eight rounds. He has won four in a row since then, including a decision over Marcos Reyes in May.

Trainer Marc Ramsay, fresh from taking Montreal-based Russian Artur Beterbiev to an IBF light heavyweight title on Nov. 11, sees a chance to add another championship belt to the list.

“We have a fast opponent, a good technician, but not a guy who likes to work very hard,” Ramsay said of Saunders. “If you look at his percentage of work, it’s not very high.

“He’s not a volume boxer. And he has a tendency to show people if he’s hurting or tired. He doesn’t have that poker face. And this is the wrong message to send to David Lemieux. He can smell and feel that.”

The Saunders camp is equally confident about beating Lemieux, who tends to favour all-out attack over defence, which may be one reason the HBO specialty channel in the U.S. likes to show his fights, including this one.

They feel that Lemieux tends to blow himself out going for knockouts and is injury prone, even if the Laval fighter insists he had only a minor knuckle problem after his last bout and is now in full health.

Trainer Dominic Ingle said Saunders was very overweight and needed a crash diet to make weight for his last bout, a tough decision over American Willie Monroe Jr. only three months ago. But now he’s in his best shape ever.

“Billy Joe is a very smart fighter and the fitter he is and the easier he makes weight, the skills can be showcased,” said Ingle. “He can do everything he needs to do in the ring, where before he was restricting himself.

“He might not have had enough gas in the tank. He might have run out of power. But for this fight, because he’s done back-to-back camps, he’s in perfect shape.”

Saunders agreed to fight outside Britain for the first time and in his opponent’s home town — Lemieux lives only a 10-minute drive from the arena — to press his case for a fight with Alvarez, whose promoter Golden Boy also handles Lemieux.

The fighters are also out to impress Golden Boy’s Bernard Hopkins, one of the all-time middleweight greats who is in town for the bout.

The co-feature has Irish veteran Gary O’Sullivan (26-2) against American prospect Antoine Douglas (22-1-1) for the WBO Inter-Continental middleweight belt, while Yves Ulysse Jr. (14-1) of Montreal tries to rebound from his first defeat against Cletus (the Hebrew Hammer) Seldin (21-0). Welterweight Custio Clayton (12-0) of Dartmouth, N.S. faces Cristian Coria of Argentina for the minor WBO International title.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cowboy Kicks, originally scheduled for May 5, will now take place Sept. 18. (Contributed photo)
Westerner Park’s Cowboy Kicks fundraiser moved to Sept. 18

A major fundraiser for Westerner Park and the Canadian Pro Rodeo Sport… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Josh Tarzwell tries to tip a point shot past Lethbridge Hurricanes goalie Car Tetachuk in WHL action Friday night at the Centrium. (Photo by ROB WALLATOR/Red Deer Rebels)
Red Deer Rebels struggles continue, drop seventh straight to Hurricanes

Hurricanes score three power-play goals in 6-3 win

Downtown Red Deer patio restaurants have been busy this summer. Contributed photo
City of Red Deer expediting patio application process for restaurants

The City of Red Deer is allowing businesses to install patios prior… Continue reading

RDC Queens forward Camryn Wallan was named the 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Female Athlete of the Year. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Wallan, Podgorenko named 2020-21 RDC Outstanding Athletes of the Year

Even with the cancellation of the 2020-21 Alberta Colleges Athletic Association, RDC… Continue reading

A new Angus Reid poll says that close to two-thirds of Albertans think premier Jason Kenney is doing a bad job handling the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
75% of Albertans disapprove of Kenney’s pandemic leadership: poll

Nearly 75 per cent of Albertans believe Premier Jason Kenney is doing… Continue reading

Red Deer-South MLA Jason Stephan is among those who have signed an open letter criticizing the government’s return to stricter health measures. (Advocate file photo).
Updated: Kenney tells UCP caucus COVID-19 dissent OK, breaking health rules means expulsion

15 MLAs released letter on Wednesday critical of new health restrictions

jobs - T - 3-6-2020
Finding a job: 3 job search truisms you need to accept

A job search has many moving parts; your mindset is the most… Continue reading

Here masking tape was applied to both sides of a joint to be caulked. Peeling the tape off as soon as the caulking is smeared with a finger leaves behind a neat edge. (Photo by Robert Maxwell)
Houseworks: Unheated spaces can cause tools to rust

Q: How well do woodworking tools survive in an unheated Canadian workshop?… Continue reading

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is seen in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, Friday, Nov. 29, 2019. The University of Victoria and the head coach of its women's rowing team have denied allegations of demeaning and aggressive treatment outlined in a lawsuit filed last summer by a former student and team member. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Canada's Julia Grosso, right, and Wales' Natasha Harding battle for the ball during the women's international friendly soccer match at Leckwith Stadium, Wales, Friday, April 9, 2021. Canada blanked Wales 3-0 but lost captain Christine Sinclair to an injury in the fist half of a soccer friendly Friday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Nick Potts
Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada blanks Wales in soccer friendly but has injury scare with Christine Sinclair

Canada's DTH Van Der Merwe, left, is tackled by Hong Kong's Toby Fenn, during the 2019 Japan Rugby Union World Cup qualifying match between Canada and Hong Kong, in Marseille, southern France, Friday, Nov. 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Claude Paris
Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Canadian rugby star DTH van der Merwe enjoying life in Los Angeles

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Justin Rose, of England, hits out of a bunker on the seventh hole during the second round of the Masters golf tournament on Friday, April 9, 2021, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

Rose clings to 1-shot Masters lead as Spieth, Thomas lurk

People shop for essential items at Costco as pallets block off aisles and sections that have been deemed non-essential during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, April 8, 2021. Retailers in Ontario are adjusting to new lockdown restrictions with stores like grocers, discount and big box chains roping off non-essential items from underwear to calculators. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Ontario retailers adjust to new rules, non-essential goods off-limits to shoppers

Most Read