THERE were numerous moments during the 12 one-sided rounds he shared with David Lemieux in December 2017 when Billy Joe Saunders went missing – in a good way. He appeared, in these moments, both invisible to his opponent and ignorant to the dangers of his profession. Transfixed, we watched him the way he watched Lemieux. Same intensity, same focus. But, unlike him, we couldn’t look away.
We knew Billy Joe Saunders was good. We just didn’t know he was that good. We also knew he might be able to beat David Lemieux. We just didn’t know he would be able to beat him like that.
As it turned out, this wasn’t so much bull vs. matador as man vs. boy – knife vs. rattle. With an opponent constantly spiked and spun, Saunders clearly wasn’t wasn’t playing Lemieux’s game and he wasn’t playing into his hands either. Instead, he was the one playing. He was the one playful and having fun, his every move designed to both avoid Lemieux’s punches and generate from his audience the kind of acclaim reserved for circus acts or magic tricks. We enjoyed the spectacle almost as much as he did, even if a fight, for its participants, is meant to be anything but enjoyable.