Daniel Jacobs will be interested spectator in David Lemieux-Billy Joe Saunders title bout

When Billy Joe Saunders puts his WBO middleweight title on the line Saturday in David Lemieux's backyard outside of Montreal, there will be one interested spectator with more invested in the result than any other. 

Considering Saunders possesses the only recognized middleweight belt not currently owned by Gennady Golovkin, who appears headed toward a May rematch with Canelo Alvarez, top contender Daniel Jacobs is hoping he will get the first crack at it. 

Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs), who pushed Golovkin to the limit in a narrow March defeat, recently signed with Matchroom Sport as arguably the face of promoter Eddie Hearn's U.S. invasion. As part of the deal, Jacobs made the move from Showtime to HBO and is expected to be a major player for the network, which has plenty invested at 160 pounds. 

So who does Jacobs hope comes out on top on Saturday (HBO, 9:40 p.m. ET) when Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) makes his third title defense against Lemieux (38-3, 33 KOs) at Place Bell in Laval, Quebec?

"I think it's going to be up to truly which BJ Saunders shows up," Jacobs told CBS Sports' "In This Corner podcast" on Monday. "I think he's a very unique guy and we never know what we are going to get from him when he steps into the ring. I think he has a really good arsenal with the southpaw stance, one that will give Lemieux a lot of trouble. But he hasn't shown up in fights before. He has been getting hit with shots that typically he wouldn't get hit with."

Saunders, 28, a native of England, scored a pair of knockdowns in outpointing Andy Lee for the title in 2015. But his reign has been rather weak as Saunders has turned down big fights, only to return in lackluster defenses against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Jr.

The southpaw Saunders employs an awkward, shifty style and hasn't been afraid to circle away from opponents and stall when things get hairy. He may need to use all of the above against Lemieux, 28, a former titleholder who is among the most feared punchers in the division. 

"I'm thinking [Saunders] is going to come out with a win by decision unless Lemieux can get one of those lucky shots," Jacobs said. "Stylistically, I don't see Lemieux being able to keep up with that style."

Regardless of who comes out on top, Jacobs is hoping to be next. He's fresh off his Matchroom debut in November when he outpointed a determined and unbeaten Luis Arias. 

"I was actually going to go to Montreal to be ringside and spectate for the fight because I want to be live and active and let these guys know that I'm here and that I want to be able to fight," Jacobs said. "We are all with the same network so I think that it makes since for the winner of BJ Saunders and Lemieux to fight me because GGG and Canelo are already making plans to fight each other. Nothing else makes sense in my opinion."


For as dangerous as Lemieux can be -- and his Knockout of the Year candidate against Curtis Stevens in March was scary stuff -- he remains very limited against a capable boxer. Golovkin proved as much in their 2015 unification fight when he boxed Lemieux into submission using nothing more than his jab. 

Saunders, however, has nowhere near the explosiveness as Golovkin, making the comparison a bit of a reach. Still, Saunders can box, he has a quick jab and he knows how to control distance and frustrate his opponents.  

This fight will ultimately come down to whether Saunders can have enough success to win rounds without staying too long in the line of fire. He'll need to have the nerves of a burglar, but this remains a fight he can win. 

Pick: Saunders by unanimous decision.

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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