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Saunders v Lemieux: Fight preview and prediction

Cian Carroll | 15 December 2017

Champion heading into the lion’s den

Billy Joe Saunders faces the biggest test of his career in Montreal on Saturday night against David Lemieux.

No one can accuse Saunders of shirking the big fights. The WBO middleweight champion is going deep into enemy territory to defend his strap.

Lemieux is a mandatory challenger but the Canadian will be one of Saunders’ toughest opponents to date.

Saunders is 5/6 to win, with Lemieux slightly longer at 10/11.

The Coral News Team take a closer look at this huge clash.

Boxer v brawler

One advantage that Saunders will have is his boxing brain. The southpaw Londoner has terrific footwork and good hand speed.

That in itself can be a drawback, however. Because when Saunders gets in the flow, he can switch off and take it easy.

He won’t be able to do that with Lemieux. The 28-year-old is a concussive puncher with a knockout percentage of 80% compared to Saunders’ 48%.

The Briton needs to avoid taking any heavy punishment in the opening rounds otherwise it could be over early.

Home comforts

Saunders will fight outside of the UK for the first time in his career against Lemieux. That could be problematic if the bout is close and the judges are asked to make a decision.

Boxing is notorious for giving hometown fighters dubious decisions. However, two of Lemieux’s three career defeats have come in Montreal back in 2011.

Big punching Marco Antonio Rubio stopped him. And Joachim Alcine also beat him on a majority points decision in the very next fight at the same venue.

Lemieux has faltered when he has come up against top-tier quality. But it’s arguable that Saunders is yet to prove he is world-class. And that’s what makes this match-up so intriguing.

Prediction

This is as tight a contest as you’re likely to find in a title fight. There are a number of factors to consider.

Saunders looks in tremendous shape with his trainer Dominic Ingle putting huge concentration on cardio work.

That’s likely to be in response to Lemieux’s ferocious work rate. Can Saunders keep the Canadian off him for 12 rounds? It’s going to be difficult.

The champion is going to need his boxing IQ to be firing on all cylinders to beat his opponent.

Lemieux is 7/4 to stop Saunders and that is certainly a tempting bet. However, the Coral News Team is backing Saunders to box clever and come away with the win.

Back Billy Joe Saunders to retain his title on points at 7/4.

Big fight previews, boxing betting tips and news– Coral have got it all.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.