Boxing action is thinning out in the run-up to Christmas, but Billy Joe Saunders has a big night in Canada on Sunday. Betfair's resident fighter/writer Frankie Monkhouse gives his views on the outcome...
"The fact Lemieux brings frightening power will ensure the Englishman is switched on from the first to last bells. I’m expecting a polished performance."
WBO world middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders takes the show to Canada in the early hours of Sunday morning, where he'll face ambitious local David Lemieux at the Place Bell, Laval. This will be the third defence of Saunders' title, a belt won with victory over Andy Lee two years ago. The champion is in need of a big performance, following a couple of below-par efforts and time away from the sport.
Traders expect the popular southpaw to get the job done, but he's not the convincing favourite many punters would expect, paving the way for a shot at value in good time for Christmas. We give our views on how the late-night action should go.
Champion on points makes sense
Billy Joe Saunders was last in action back in the summer, beating well-regarded American Willie Munroe Jr at the Copper Box Arena, Stratford. Again, critics called it a lackadaisical display, and judge Julio Cesar Alvarado seemed to agree, tallying 115-114, making the Londoner a narrow winner. Thankfully, for British fight fans, the other two scoring that evening were more convinced, 117-112, 117-111 the cards.
That result means undefeated Saunders has now won each of his last three on points, his last KO victory coming way back in July 2015 when downing French also-ran Yoann Bloyer in four at Wembley Arena. A successful defence has been marked up at [1.96] on the Betfair Exchange, but followers of the trends may want to take a risk for more of a price. Another Saunders points win is [2.66], making more appeal than a rare KO/TKO, yours at 6/1 (Betfair Sportsbook).
Lemieux brings an 80% KO average
Home hero David Lemieux will be hoping the backing of a patriotic support will drive him onto victory, but drumming up interest in the upset looks a hard sell, when relying on form alone. The 28-year-old, from Montreal, has already lost three times during a 41-fight career, two of those coming by way of knockout. The 5ft 9inch orthodox went no more than eight rounds with Golovkin - no shame there - but was also cut down in seven by Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio in 2011.
Since that beating at the hands of GGG, Lemieux has put together a four-fight winning run, against modest opposition, but has got two of them out early, Glen Tapia in four and Curtis Stevens in three, before putting in an impressive display vs Mexico's Marcos Reyes in Vegas last time, winning on points over 10. He must be given credit for that, but this is a massive step up in class, and the challenger has been inactive since May. There's [2.14] on the Exchange about Lemieux winning the fight, a KO/TKO deemed to be his best chance, [3.50]. With an 80% knockout average, that's hardly surprising.
Brit won't be affected by the crowd
BJS looks to be up against it in terms of power, but that is nothing new to the Hatfield native, and although he's been far from at his best for a while now, there's plenty more big nights in the tank, starting here. The fact Lemieux brings frightening power will ensure the Englishman is switched on from the first to last bells. I'm expecting a polished performance.
We could back Saunders for the win, as he's a better price than I expected, but it's a great time of year to shoot for a bit of value, and that's sticking with the trends and backing Saunders on points at [2.66]. The favourite will have to remain calm in the opening rounds, against an eager opponent and sizeable crowd, but we've never seen this man flustered before, and he won't be here. Bank the early rounds will be the game plan, and then defend.