Lemieux’s promoter questions if HBO wants Billy Joe Saunders on their network again
By Scott Gilfoid: David Lemieux’s promoter Camille Estephan wonders whether HBO executives will want to televise WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ fights again in the future after his rather dull, spoiling performance against his fighter 9 days ago on December 16 at the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada.
Estephan understands that the networks like HBO are looking to put on exciting fighters that entertain the boxing fans that tune in to watch the action. Saunders’ performance came up short of the mark in the entertainment aspect, as he spent much of the Lemieux fight on the run, evading him and not standing his ground to fight.
Saunders won the Lemieux fight by a wide 12 round unanimous decision, but he was booed frequently by the Montreal boxing fans that had come to see the fight. The fans weren’t booing because their fighter was losing. It appeared the fans were booing because Saunders was running from Lemieux. The fans wanted to see action and they failed to get that with the Saunders vs. Lemieux fight.
“The question remains: will HBO executives want to see Saunders again? Because it’s flat to see,” said Estephan to the Montreal Journal. ”They understood very well that Saunders did not want to fight. They are looking for action and the fight was flat.”
The only way I see HBO agreeing to televise Saunders’ fights in the future is if he’s facing Gennady Golovkin or Saul Canelo Alvarez. HBO won’t reject a fight involving Saunders if Canelo and Golovkin are involved, as they’re too popular for them to turn down. Never the less, the fights will involve even more movement by Saunders than what we saw in the Lemieux fight.
Saunders will not be able to engage with Canelo and Golovkin without risking being knocked out. As such, Saunders will fight Canelo and GGG in a similar manner as Hughie Fury did against WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker by staying on the move, jabbing at the air to dissuade Canelo and GGG from attacking him, and clinching each time they get close. In other words, I see Saunders doing pure spoiling in making the fights extremely ugly.
It’s quite possible that Saunders won’t be seen on HBO unless he’s fighting these guys:
• Saul Canelo Alvarez
• Gennady Golovkin
• Daniel Jacobs
Saunders has already made it clear that he doesn’t want to fight Jacobs, so that narrows it down to Canelo and GGG if he’s to potentially fight on HBO again. I hate to say it but I don’t think Canelo will ever fight Saunders after his ugly performance against Lemieux. Canelo isn’t going to bother going after the WBO belt, because there’s no real gain in fighting for that strap. Canelo won’t be given credit for winning the WBO belt, as it’s not held by a well-known champion that is highly respected by the U.S boxing fans. Saunders isn’t seen as ‘The Champion at middleweight.’ Golovkin is viewed as the 160lb. champion by U.S fans. Canelo won’t get any credit for beating Saunders by the fans. It would be like Canelo fighting Liam Smith again. The fans won’t purchase the fight in high numbers on HBO, because it’s not an appealing one. Golovkin might fight Saunders, but only because he wants his WBO belt. Golovkin will have a plan to deal with Saunders’ running and holding.
Estephan brings up a good point about Saunders’ performance being flat. It was not remotely an entertaining effort from Saunders. He was not trying to engage Lemieux. He was focusing on hitting and running, but not in an entertaining way like the late Muhammad Ali. Saunders was doing a lot of hitting, holding and running from Lemieux, and that made it extremely boring to watch for a lot of boxing fans. Early in his career, Ali would stay in the pocket and get the better of his opponents with his hand speed and combinations. Saunders wasn’t doing that. He was hitting and moving.
Lemieux thinks he would have beaten Saunders if he was at his best. He was dealing with a hand and feet issues. Lemieux hurt his left hand early in the fight. That kept him from being able to use it the way he wanted to. Further, Lemieux developed blisters on his feet from chasing Saunders around the ring all night. Lemieux says it was easier for him to fight Golovkin than it was Saunders, because he didn’t have to chase him around the ring for the entire fight.
“I believe [Gennady] Golovkin was easier to deal with than Saunders,” said Lemieux. ”I did not have any blisters underfoot after the fight against Golovkin. Against Saunders – and I can show you my bulbs – I had to run after.”
The blisters on Lemieux’s feet probably resulted from him having to change directions so often to try and cut off the ring on Saunders. When you’ve got a runner in the ring like Saunders, it requires a lot of direction changing do handle the movement. Lemieux’s feet gave on him. It looked like Lemieux was prepared for that level of running from Saunders, because if he had been ready, his feet would have been able to hold up for the entire fight without blistering the way they did. Lemieux was obviously expecting a certain amount of running from Saunders, but not to the level that we saw in the fight. Saunders went extreme with his movement, and just focused on pure spoiling to make sure he didn’t get knocked out.
Golovkin was boxing Lemieux in the pocket, and looking to land pinpoint punches. He was jabbing a lot, and throwing single power shots. Golovkin dealt with Lemieux in a much different way than Saunders did. Golovkin wasn’t going to run from Lemieux the way that Saunders did because that’s not how he fights. Golovkin made it entertaining by staying in one place and daring Lemieux to try and get past his jab, which he proved unable to do. Golovkin ended up stopping Lemieux in the 8th round after hurting him with body shots.
“Golovkin, this is not a guy who’s going to run, he’s a guy who stands in front of you, who’s fighting and who’s there to give a” show “too,” said Lemieux.
Saunders really spoiled like mad against Lemieux. You have to feel sorry for Lemieux. He didn’t recognize that he was going to be dealing with that kind of fighter until it was too late. Coming off an injury and layoff, Lemieux should have opted for a different type of opponent than Saunders.
Lemieux needed to trim down more during training camp so that he could be lighter, and more prepared to chase down Saunders.