THE WBO have ruled that Billy Joe Saunders, their middleweight champion, must defend his world title against number one rated challenger David Lemieux.

The fighters’ respective teams have 30 days to reach an agreement before the WBO order a purse bid.

Saunders has been plagued by inactivity, boxing only once in 2016. He had his second title defence in September and plans to box again in December.

Willie Monroe Jr was an awkward but negative opponent and Saunders took a clear unanimous decision against him. Lemieux will make for a far more exciting bout. The Canadian is aggressive and heavy-handed. He has delivered some spectacular knockouts. A former IBF middleweight champion he lost his world title to Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden in 2015. Since then he’s been on a four-fight winning run and has boxed twice this year already.

David Lemieux

Lemieux spoke to Boxing News earlier this year about fighting Saunders. “He’s definitely a guy I would love to face,” he said. “I never underestimate any opponent, he’s a world champion and there’s a reason why he’s a world champion. It would be a good fight, it would be interesting.”