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Saunders vs. Lemieux averaged 716K viewers on HBO

Billy Joe Saunders David Lemieux

By Scott Gilfoid: Middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders’ lopsided 12 round unanimous decision win over the popular former IBF 160 lb. champion David Lemieux (38-4, 33 KOs) brought in good ratings on HBO World Championship Boxing last Saturday night at the Place Bell in Laval, Quebec, Canada.

That’s the good news. The bad news for Lemieux is he lost badly. The fight brought in an average of 716,000 viewers on HBO with a peak of 775,000 viewers, which aren’t bad numbers given that Lemieux was fighting a champion that the casual boxing fans aren’t familiar with in 28-year-old Saunders. It would have brought in better numbers if Lemieux was fighting a guy better known to the U.S fans like Gennady Golovkin, Saul Canelo Alvarez, Danny Jacobs or Jermall Charlo.

Going into the bout, Lemieux was given a real chance of beating Saunders by the odds-makers. They saw it as a close fight. It didn’t turn out that way. Saunders just dominated the slower wide-body Lemieux from start to finish. The fight never did get interesting. Saunders played it safe for 12 rounds, holding, moving and jabbing Lemieux. Saunders did a lot of showboating and taunting Lemieux.

The Montreal crowd a ringside, not accustomed to seeing non-action, booed Saunders for him not willing to fight Lemieux. The boxing fans had paid to see a fight. What they saw instead was pure defensive fighting on Saunders’ part, and it was not thrilling stuff for the fans. There was clearly a mistake made by Lemieux’s management in failing to realize the kind of fighter Saunders is. If they had gone back a few years to watch his safety-first fights against Chris Eubank Jr. and Gary O’Sullivan, they would have understood that it wouldn’t be a good idea to match Lemieux against him.

Lemieux is good fighter, but he needs someone that is going to engage with him. Saunders didn’t want to, and made that clear by coming into the fight lean and using movement at all times to avoid getting hit. Even late in the fight, Saunders was still moving, spoiling and not giving Lemieux a stationary target. It’s not the end of the road for Lemieux. He can still come again and do well, but his promoters are going to need to be more careful in the future who they match him against. Putting him in with a known runner like Saunders was a mistake that could have been avoided.

In last Saturday’s co-feature bout on HBO, middleweight Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan’s fight against Antoine Douglas averaged 668,000 viewers with a nice peak of 696,000. O’Sullivan, 33, pulled off an upset in stopping Douglas in round 7.

In the first fight of the card, light welterweight Yves Ulysse Jr. beat Cletus Seldin by a wide 10 round decision. The fight averaged 624K viewers with a peak of 717K. This was an identical fight to the Saunders vs. Lemieux contest. The only exception is, Saunders didn’t knock Lemieux down. Ulysse Jr. dropped Seldin 3 times in this one-sided fight.

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