Billy Joe Saunders had a lot to prove on December 16, but he capped off the year with an impressive win over arguably his hardest-hitting opponent in David Lemieux.
In Saunders' first fight outside of the United Kingdom, he defeated Saunders in dominant fashion, retaining his WBO middleweight title. Saunders won via unanimous decision with three lopsided scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 120-108.
Saunders had been receiving a lot of criticism for his poor performances in his two title defenses against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr. Although Saunders won both of those fights, he told HBO's Max Kellerman in the post-fight interview that he needed to be much better against Saunders than against his last two opponents.
"At this time last year, I was an absolute disgrace [against Akavov] in Scotland and I would never, ever jump in the ring again with a performance like that. That's down to one man and one man only, [trainer] Dominic Ingle from Sheffield. If it wasn't for him, my boxing career would be finished and over," Saunders said.
Lemieux, who had been trying to win another middleweight world title, said he had hurt his left hand in the second round and wasn't able to do much against Saunders. Lemieux was only able to hit a few good, clean shots against an elusive Saunders on that night.
Saunders outclassed the power-punching Lemieux, landing 165 of 430 punches while Lemieux landed only 67 of 356 punches, according to CompuBox. With the win, Saunders now moves closer to a potential bout between either unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.