Billy Joe Saunders

Saunders Heads to Canada for Title Defence Against Dangerous Lemieux

Billy Joe Saunders dips his toe into the international waters at the weekend, and he is in confident mood ahead of his first professional bout away from British soil.

The 28-year-old has built solid foundations to take his career forward, with an unbeaten 25-0 record and a WBO middleweight title to his name. Gennady Golovkin is the big fish in the middleweight pond and Saunders has his sights set on a unification bout with the Kazakh in 2018.

Before that, Saunders will have to overcome David Lemieux in the Canadian’s home province of Quebec. It is a mandatory defence for Saunders, meaning his fellow 28-year-old has earned his shot – but the champion will head into the ring in a bullish frame of mind and has offered a huge incentive to his rival.

“My chin will hold up. I promise you that,” Saunders said, per The Sun. “That’s one thing I promise you – my chin will definitely hold up.

“If it don’t, you can have my purse. How about that? No problem.”

Offering to give up his share of the fight earnings is a bold move by Saunders, but he has shown no signs of being chinny in his previous 25 fights and he sees Lemieux as a stepping stone to the division’s ultimate prize.

James DeGale demonstrated last week of the perils of thinking too far ahead, but Saunders heads to Canada on the back of a good preparation and a win in September – as opposed to his fellow Brit who was beaten by Caleb Truax in his first outing since undergoing shoulder reconstruction surgery.

Saunders is favourite at 1.77 with 188BET, but the market makers feel it is anything but a walkover as Lemieux is a 2.00 shot.

The Canadian certainly has a solid pedigree, having been the IBF middleweight champion before losing the strap to Golovkin. Lemieux went eight rounds with the Kazakh superstar, and that sort of effort puts him in with a shot at dethroning Saunders.

Lemieux will also have the home support at the Place Bell in Laval, which will be a strange experience for Saunders, and he has made positive noises about stopping his British opponent in his tracks.

“He will hit the floor,” Lemieux said, per Bad Left Hook. “And whether I win by knockout or go 12 rounds, it’s no matter. But I will drop him and I will hurt him.”

Saunders’ chin may be tested by a fighter renowned for his heavy hitting, and the Canadian has bounced back with four wins on the spin since his defeat at the hands of Golovkin, but the Brit is a slick operator and Saunders to win on the judges’ scorecards could be the way to go – with 188BET pricing up that outcome at 2.35