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Abel Sanchez says Saunders vs. Lemieux is a toss-up fight

Billy Joe Saunders David Lemieux

By Stanley White: Highly respected trainer Abel Sanchez says this Saturday’s title fight between WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders and #1 WBO mandatory challenger David Lemieux is a 50-50 fight in his mind.

Sanchez sees Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) as being susceptible to getting out-boxed by Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) in this fight. But, Sanchez also thinks Saunders will need to be 100 percent perfect for him to get the win. One mistake by Saunders could cost him the fight with Lemieux knocking him out with one of his big shots.

Lemieux is coming off an unimpressive performance in his last fight in beating Marcos Reyes by a 10 round unanimous decision on May 6 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lemieux still won the fight quite easily, but he took some big shots from Reyes in the second half of the contest.

Lemieux landed some monstrous punches that Reyes was forced to take. Reyes showed a lot of heart to come back late in the fight to land some hard punches. Lemieux was still better in every round of the fight. He kept blasting away at Reyes for the full 10 rounds despite dealing with a shoulder injury. he injury to Lemieux’s shoulder is said to be healed, and he’s ready to go on Saturday night.

“I think it’s a 50/50 fight, saying that, I believe Saunders needs to fight the perfect fight to win, a perfect 12-round fight,” said Sanchez to

Saunders has to be perfect because he’s fighting away from the UK on Saturday night. The fight will be in Lemieux’s home country of Canada. Saunders was already given 3 gift decision wins in the last several years against Artur Akavov, Andy Lee and Chris Eubank Jr. All 3 of those fights took place in the UK.

Saunders could have lost all 3 of those fights had the matches took place in his opponent’s hometown. Saunders is not performing at an important level at this point in his career, and he’s facing arguably the hardest puncher in the middleweight division today in 28-year-old Lemieux. Moreover, Saunders’ stamina is not good. Saunder’s promoter says he’s got his stamina issues taken care of, but I don’t think he has.

“Lemieux has the type of power and body strength that is a game-changer but can be out-boxed,” said Sanchez. ”I can see either guy winning, Saunders by decision and Lemieux KO, but we could get a couple knockdowns that earns (Lemieux) a decision.”

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Gennady Golovkin out-boxed Saunders, but he’s the only one that has been able to do it. Marco Antonio Rubio played rope-a-dope for 6 rounds in taking punishment from Lemieux before coming on the score a knockout in the second half of the fight. Joachim Alcine beat Lemieux by a controversial decision. That result likely would have been different if there were a good set of judges working the fight.

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