David Lemieux active and ready for anything
LAS VEGAS – David Lemieux had delivered a sensational third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens the previous week when he received a call from his manager, Camille Estephan. Golden Boy Promotions, which handles Lemieux, wanted him to fight on the May 6 card featuring Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Lemieux didn’t hesitate to accept. He will fight fellow slugger Marcos Reyes in the co-feature Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
“David told me, ‘That’s the place to be seen. That’s what I want to do,’” Estephan said. “I said, ‘Great. Let’s work on a deal.’ And we got it done.”
As a result, Lemieux will have endured back-to-back extended training camps, with only a week between them. That means he will have trained full-time for 20 of the past 21 weeks, which is taxing even for a youthful fighter like the 28-year-old from Montreal.
Lemieux (37-3, 33 knockouts) said it’s a sacrifice worth making. He wants to to stay in the public eye, to stay active, to stay prepared for other opportunities on the horizon.
“The body likes a break, you know,” he said. “I’m young, I’m healthy. I can do it. It isn’t damaging my health or anything. … The problem with a lot of fighters nowadays is inactivity. We saw it with Andre Ward. He looked rusty in his fight (with Sergey Kovalev). He’s a much better fighter than that. I always want to stay active.”
And who knows what the payoff might be.
Canelo is still negotiating to meet Gennady Golovkin in a middleweight superfight in September but no one will be shocked if it doesn’t happen, at least not in September. That would open the door for another fortunate 160-pounder to step in and earn a big payday on Mexican Independence Day.
Lemieux could be first in line for obvious reasons. He has a following, a high ranking (No. 3 by THE RING), an exciting style and shares a promoter with Canelo. The benefits for Lemieux also are obvious: a big payday and an opportunity to face another major star. He was stopped by Golovkin in 2015.
“That’s definitely a fight I would want,” Lemieux said. “He would be a very credible guy to beat. And it’s a fan-friendly fight. He’s a strong fighter who comes out swinging and I’m a strong fighter who comes out swinging. It would be a great, great night.”
Of course, Lemieux must get past Reyes for that fight to happen.
“I would be confident if David fought Canelo,” Estephan said, “but we have to beat Reyes first.”
Reyes: One should be careful what one wishes for.
Reyes demonstrated that he was a capable boxer against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in July 2015, losing a competitive decision. The Mexican believed his solid performance would lead to bigger and better things. It didn’t, as his career stalled. That prompted him to contact California-based promoter Don Chargin, who works with Golden Boy Promotions.
As a result, Reyes landed the biggest fight of his life –against Lemieux in the co-feature of a pay-per-view event.
“When I called to tell him he got the fight, he was thrilled,” Chargin said.
Now Reyes (35-4, 26 KOs) actually has to do battle with one of the most feared punchers in the world. The MGM Grand, which is hosting the event, hasn’t posted odds on Lemieux-Reyes but Reyes is considered a big underdog.
“[Lemieux] is a real tough guy, one of the best punchers around,” Chargin said. “Marcos gave Chavez a good fight. He’s a tough kid begging for a chance. I explained that this guy (Lemieux) is a puncher. He said he really wanted the fight.
“[Reyes] has a great record, he’s ready to go. I’m concerned about the fight because of Lemieux’s punching power but I think he has a chance.”
One more thing that Chargin pointed out: He is certain that Reyes will stand his ground and trade punches with Lemieux – “I know he will,” Chargin said – which could make for a very short but exciting fight.
“Marcos thinks that if he can get by three, four rounds, he can win the fight, but getting by three, four rounds will be tough,” Chargin said.
Jo Jo Diaz: Diaz is like every fighter who takes up the sport as a child: He dreamed more of winning shiny belts than money. And he’s very close to winning one.
Diaz, rated No. 1 by the WBO and No. 2 by the WBC, fights unbeaten Manuel Avila (22-0, 8 KOs) on the Canelo-Chavez card. If he wins, he hopes to become mandatory challenger to either WBO titleholder Oscar Valdez or Gary Russell Jr., the WBC beltholder.
“It’s very exciting,” he said. “Every day I thank God for all these opportunities he’s blessed me with. I’m just a kid from South El Monte, near L.A., growing up in poverty. And here I am today fighting on one of the biggest cards in boxing. I’m just soaking it all in.”
Also typical of young, talented fighters, Diaz (23-0, 13 KOs) is only 24 but said he has had a difficult time waiting for his opportunity to come.
“It has been hard for me,” said the former U.S. Olympian. “I wanted to become a world champion right away, ever since I turned pro. But my manager told me, Golden Boy told me that experience is the key. You have to have tough opponents, tough fights to learn what you have to learn to be a professional champion.
“Now is the perfect time for me to become a world champion.”
Matthysse is back: Lucas Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs) will return to the ring after a 17-month layoff when he fights Emanuel Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs) in a welterweight fight on the Canelo-Chavez card.
When we last saw Matthysse, 34, he had taken a beating from Viktor Postol in October 2015. He emerged with his first knockout loss and a broken eye socket. He said he’s fully recovered and itching to get into the mix at 147 pounds.
“Training camp has been great with (new trainer) Joel Diaz,” Matthysse said. “It has worked so well with him. I’m going to put on a great fight.”
The Argentine didn’t select a pushover for his comeback fight. Taylor has fallen short against top-tier opponents but he’s a good, experienced boxer.