Billy Joe Saunders at a presser

Saunders Crushes Lemieux to Give Golovkin Much to Ponder

Billy Joe Saunders oozed class in his win over David Lemieux in Canada on Saturday, to more than justify his post-fight declaration that he wants a unification bout with Gennady Golovkin.

Saunders, in his first professional fight outside of Britain, proved utterly elusive as he cruised to a unanimous points win over his Canadian rival.

The market makers had Saunders as the underdog going into the WBO middleweight title defence, with some judges of the opinion that the hard-hitting Lemieux would hunt down the Brit and take out his man.

Lemieux spent the majority of the fight chasing what must have felt like a shadow. Saunders glided inside, picked off his opponent with a telling jab before disappearing out of range.

The Montreal crowd willed on their man, and gave Saunders plenty of verbal aggression, but it made not a jot of difference as Saunders proved in a completely different league to a man who has held a world title before.

The judges’ scorecards – 120-108, 117-111 and 118-110 – emphasised how far Saunders had won by. And they were not scorecards that in any way flattered the Brit who fully merited the overwhelming outcome.

It was the second outing since Saunders had relocated to Sheffield to work with trainer Dominic Ingle, and the decision is bearing fruit.

A little over a year ago, Saunders was making hard work of defending his belt against Arthur Akakov. 12 months down the line, he is taking care of the dangerous Lemieux with the minimum of fuss and calling out Golovkin.

“I have beaten enough dog meat now,” Saunders said in his post-fight interview on BT Sport. “Golovkin, you keep saying the [sic] wanted my WBO belt when I was 14 stone, out of shape and was not in love with boxing and you wanted to fight me.

”Fight me now and we will see a different story, as you will be punching fresh air.”

A jump from Lemieux to a shot at the division’s big fish in Golovkin is a huge one, but on the evidence of his win in Canada, Saunders is deserving of a shot.

Golovkin is the holder of the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF and IBO middleweight titles and getting his hands on the WBO belt would certainly appeal to the Kazakh. Whether a fight can be set up is a different matter, as Golovkin has the option of a rematch with Saul Canelo Alvarez after their split decision draw in September.

But if Saunders makes enough noise and his camp can put together an attractive proposition, the middleweight division could get a unification fight in 2018.