By Rich Cheney: Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez says negotiations have started for the WBO ordered fight between WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) and former IBF 160lb champion David Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs).
The World Boxing Organization sent both camps letters ordering Saunders and Lemieux to being negotiations. They have 30 days to negotiate the fight. If they don’ reach an agreement, a purse bid will take place within 2 weeks of that date.
A purse bid would seem likely. If the fight goes to a purse bid, Saunders would receive 70 percent of the bid, while Lemieux would receive the other 30%.
Saunders vs. Lemieux won’t take place on the undercard of Miguel Cotto’s December 2 fight against Sadam Ali on HBO World Championship Boxing. It’ll take place possibly on December 16. Lemieux was planning on fighting on the December 2 card, but he wanted to fight Cotto. The Puerto Rican star will be fighting welterweight Sadam Ali instead.
“We got the letter from the WBO and Frank Warren reached out to me in an email and I responded back to him, so we’ve started dialogue and it will continue. We’re going to start negotiating,” Gomez said to ESPN.com.
Saunders, 28, says he’s pleased that the WBO has ordered the Lemieux fight. He wants an important fight to get ready to fight Gennady Golovkin or Saul Canelo Alvarez. Those 2 are meeting in a rematch next year. Saunders has not had a tough contest since his win over Andy Lee in 2015. After 2 years as the WBO middleweight champion, Saunders has successfully defended his belt twice in beating Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr.
Lemieux, 28, came up empty-handed in his hopes for a fight against Cotto on December 2 on HBO Boxing at Madison Square Garden in New York. Cotto wanted no part of moving up to middleweight to take the fight with Lemieux. Cotto’s trainer Freddie Roach wasn’t interested in having his fighter face Lemieux, according to ESPN. At the same time, Lemieux wasn’t willing to lose weight to fight Cotto below 160.
“Frank’s got the champion, so he’ll make us an offer,” said Gomez about Saunders’s promoter Frank Warren. ”Most likely he’ll want to do the fight in the U.K. Depending on the offer, we’ll react. We’ll discuss it with David, but it’s a good fight for HBO. I notified [HBO Sports executive vice president] Peter Nelson and he has interest in it.”
Normally it would be a bad idea for a fighter to have to travel to an away country, but in the case of Lemieux, he doesn’t need to worry about getting robbed as much as the next guy, because he hits so hard. Lemieux tends to score a lot of knockouts. It’s rare for one of Lemieux’s fights to go the full 12 rounds. Lemieux’s last opponent Marcos Reyes went the full 10 rounds against him last May, but that was only because Lemieux suffered a n injury to his shoulder.
Gomez says Lemieux wants to fight in December, as he’s been out of the ring since May. Gomez plans on letting Saunders’ promoter Warren know that. It’s more likely that the Saunders vs. Lemieux fight will take place in February or March next year.