LAVAL, Que. — Billy Joe Saunders of Britain toyed with frustrated David Lemieux in his hometown for a one-sided victory to retain his World Boxing Organization middleweight title on Saturday night.
Saunders (26-0) made a third defence of the title he won from Andy Lee in 2015 and showed he will be a force to be reckoned with in the division that is currently ruled by stars Saul (Canelo) Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.
"It means I'm the best now," said Saunders. "Golovkin or Canelo, I'm ready."
Lemieux (38-3), a former International Boxing Federation champion, fell short in his bid to become the first Canadian since Arturo Gatti to win a second title.
"It wasn't my night," Lemieux said in the ring, adding that he hurt his hand in the second round and wasn't able to perform at his best.
Saunders had Lemieux off balance from the outset, making the Laval resident miss while darting in to land shots seemingly at will.
Canadian judge Benoit Roussel scored it a 120-108, Briton Phil Edwards had it 118-110 and Gerardo Martinez of Puerto Rico 117-111, all for Saunders. The Canadian Press had it 118-110. Only the third and sixth rounds were close until the final two rounds that Saunders mainly spent dancing out of Lemieux's reach.
"Did I not tell you it was going to be an easy fight?" said Saunders. "I told you he's not going to hit me and he didn't hit me."
The co-feature saw Irishman Gary (Spike) O'Sullivan (27-2), who served as Saunders' main sparring partner, shocked American Antoine Douglas (22-2-1) with barrage of punches against the ropes for a seventh-round technical knockout to win the minor WBO Intercontinental middleweight title. O'Sullivan never stopped moving forward, absorbing punches and firing them back until Douglas wore down.
Yves Ulysse Jr. (15-1) of Montreal, coming off his first defeat in October, proved too quick for Cletus (Hebrew Hammer) Seldin (21-1), handing the Brooklyn, N.Y. fighter his first loss. Ulysse knocked down Seldin in each of the first three rounds of the 10-round light welterweight clash.
Custio Clayton (13-0) dominated Cristian Coria (27-6-2) of Argentina to claim the minor World Boxing Organization International welterweight title. The Dartmouth, N.S. fighter won all 10 rounds on all three judges cards over Coria (27-6-2)
Clayton took control early and was never in trouble against the Argentine, who kept his record of never being stopped before the limit intact even though he had to take a knee after a right to the ribs in the ninth and was dropped for an eight-count by a right uppercut in the 10th.
"I wasn't thinking that way at all," Clayton said of trying to end it early. "I knew he was tough.
"I had to stay composed and fight the way I know how."
Clayton was ranked 15th by the WBO going into the fight and should climb into the top 10. His goal is to get into position for a world title bout by the end 2018 or early in 2019. He expects to fight next in February, but for now he intends to return to Dartmouth, N.S., and spent the holidays with his family.
In other bouts, heavyweight Simon Kean (12-0) of Trois-Rivieires, Que., dispatched American Mike Sheppard (25-22-1) 39 seconds into the second round of their scheduled eight-round bout.
Steve Butler (21-1-1) of Montreal stopped American Lanardo Tyner (32-12-2) in the second round of their light middleweight eight-rounder, while American prospect Ryan Garcia (13-0) took out Mexican Noe Martinez (10-10-2) in the eighth and last round of a super-featherweight contest.
Light welterweight Mathieu Germain (12-0) of Montreal scored a unanimous decision over Juan Garcia Mendez (19-4-2) of Mexico, while light welterweight Batyr Jukembayev (11-0) won all eight rounds over American Wilberth Lopez (20-9).
In women's bouts, former national team boxer Kim Clavel of Montreal posted a four-round unanimous decision over Yoseline Maretinez (3-3) of Mexico in her debut as a professional light flyweight, while the 2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Nicola Adams (3-0) of Britain stopped Soledad Macedo (13-14-1) of Uruguay at 1:26 of the third round of their flyweight bout.