The WBO middleweight title fight tonight at the Bell Center in Laval, Quebec, Canada, was a rare specimen, a true “pick-‘em” contest on the books of U.K. bookmakers. The odds gave promise of a nail-biter, but to the contrary it was a monotonous, one-sided affair, a tour-de-force for defending champion Billy Joe Saunders who made David Lemieux look much older than his 28 years.
Saunders, a 2008 Olympian, was making the third defense of the title he won with a majority decision over fellow Traveler Andy Lee. In the two years since winning the title, he dealt with an assortment of injuries and had two unimpressive, albeit victorious, outings against middle-of-the roaders Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr. His showing tonight on the road in hostile Quebec was an eye-opener. Saunders doesn’t have a big punch, but he showed himself to be a stylish fighter potentially capable of creating problems for anyone in his weight class, and that includes the two big guns, Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez.
In his first start with new trainer Dominic Ingle, Saunders improved to 26-0. Although there were no knockdowns, he won every round on one of the scorecards and in the eyes of many ringsiders. The other judges had it 118-110 and 117-111. Lemieux, who had won four straight since being stopped by Golovkin, landed perhaps one meaningful punch the entire fight and saw his record dip to 38-4.
In the semi-windup, Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan was too strong for Antoine Douglas who could not weather the storm when the Boston-based Irishman cranked up the juice in the seventh frame. Douglas was on his feet when the bout was stopped, but in no shape to continue.
Douglas was 21-1-1 coming in, but suffered a brutal beating at the hands of Avtandil Khurtsidze in his lone prior defeat and may want to think about a career change. O’Sullivan improved to 26-2 with his 19th knockout. His only losses were to Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. – no shame there.
In the first bout of the HBO telecast, Cletus Seldin met his Waterloo in the form of Montreal’s Yves Ulysse Jr. The Canadian simply outclassed the “Hebrew Hammer” with his superior ring generalship, faster hands and superior defense, winning by identical 99-88 scores on all three cards. Seldin (21-1, 1 ND) showed great fortitude to last the distance after hitting the deck three times in the first three rounds, but was out of his league. This was a good win for Ulysse (15-1) who was coming off a loss via SD to Steve Claggett in an all-Canada confrontation.
In other bouts of note, Golden Boy’s 19-year-old hot super featherweight prospect Ryan Garcia improved to 13-0 (12) with an eighth round stoppage of Mexico’s Noe Martinez Raygoza and Montreal super featherweight Stephen Butler improved to 22-1-1 with a second round stoppage of 42-year-old trial horse Lanardo Tyner.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.