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Billy Joe Saunders declares himself the slickest middleweight in the world

Will the WBO middleweight champion face Canelo or Golovkin next?

Boxing at Copper Box Arena Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

Billy Joe Saunders retained his WBO world middleweight title in a boxing masterclass, overcoming the powerful David Lemieux in a unanimous decision in front of the Canadian's own fans.

Lemieux lost his IBF World title to Gennady Golovkin in October 2015 and had hoped to win the cocky Brit's WBO crown to announce himself back at the top table in the middleweight division.

But the 28-year-old's movement proved too much for the Canadian, with the largely static Lemieux missing the target with power punches regularly.

Saunders, speaking on the BoxNation Podcast, spoke at length about the fight and the immediate aftermath:

"I've had some bad performances in the past, but deep down I know what I've got in me and it's no surprise that that came out. [After] two back-to-back camps, I knew I was fit and I knew I could finish how I started.

"I couldn't afford any close rounds," admitted the 26-0 southpaw. "I said before, if I couldn't beat David Lemieux there's no point in me talking about [Gennady] Golovkin and Canelo [Alvarez].

"People thought because they were paying me well, I was going over there to take a cheque. But that clearly wasn't the case. I was going over there to do what I knew I can do.

"Look, I was acting the matador and he was the bull. All through the build up to the fight I was getting in his head. Even in the ring when they were announcing our names I was talking to him, laughing at him when they said 'three losses'."

"I wound him up then I walked over to his corner deliberately to get a reaction out of him and I got it! So I knew that I had him mentally before it even started."

"I am definitely the slickest middleweight in the world! It was a 50/50 fight in people's eyes. I knew what I could do to him.

"If a man beat me in that fashion, I'd have to take my hat off to him and say 'fair play mate you're a better man than me'.

"He did say there won't be any excuses, but after the fight straight away he blamed his hand. I don't know where he got that from because he only ever caught me [with] one shot to the body and that was about it."

The Saunders-Lemieux bout followed an entertaining war of words between the pair. Lemieux, mostly known his big punching ability, was extremely confident in his capacity to get the better of Saunders.

But as is so often the case in boxing, Lemieux was forced to eat a slice of social media humble pie and showed respect to Saunders after the fight.

With talk of potential fights against Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs rife, 2018 could prove to be a massive year in the career of Billy Joe Saunders.

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