After cracking his head on the ceiling against top-tier competition last year, David Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs) has announced his next fight: a rebound bout against James De La Rosa (23-3, 13 KOs) on March 12 in his hometown of Montreal.
When David Lemieux walked out to fight Hassan N’Dam on June 20th, 2015, the echoes of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a-Changing” played over the Bell Centre’s sound system, signaling what we might now look at as the beginning of a new era in boxing.
“The Fight of the Century” had taken place only a month before, and by the end of the same year Floyd Mayweather Jr. would retire, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez would become the biggest box office draw in the sport, and Gennady Golovkin would cement his status as boxing’s boogeyman, tallying three more knockouts to his current 21 fight knockout streak.
That night Lemieux repeatedly poleaxed N’Dam, flooring him four times on his way to a unanimous decision victory. For a while it seemed as though Lemieux could in fact be just as feared as Golovkin—that Lemieux was a force to be reckoned with in the 160-pound division.
Perhaps the times were-a changing into another Four Kings era, some thought. After all, once Lemieux signed the contract for his October bout with Golovkin, and Canelo and Miguel Cotto announced they’d fight for the lineal Middleweight title, it appeared as though a four-man tournament of champions was on the way.
But this is boxing, and what would boxing be to its loyal followers but a disorganized circus?
Lemieux lost to easily Golovkin, Canelo beat Cotto seemingly without effort. Canelo jumped straight into arguing over dollars and cents and catch weights with regard to his mandatory dance with Golovkin, and suddenly the Middleweight picture seemed more like another division devoted to the oracular business of boxing than the new season of Game of Thrones we thought it might be.
The times may not have a-changed in the way Lemieux wanted them to, but things could be much worse for the Canadian. His next bout with De La Rosa is expected by most to be a wipeout in waiting. Lemieux’s chin is made of solid steel, and De La Rosa’s fists are more akin to throw pillows when compared to the cement blocks that protrude from Lemieux’s wrists. Lemieux will likely walk through the underdog’s best shots and knock him out before the middle rounds.
If he gets through De La Rosa the way that everyone expects him to, there could be possible dates with Andy Lee or Chris Eubank Jr. in 2016.
A victory over someone like Lee or Eubank could very well put Lemieux back in title contention, but Lemieux’s choices would be spread thin. WBO titleholder Billy Joe Saunders seems hesitant to fight big punchers, Golovkin already wiped the floor with the Canadian, and Daniel Jacobs’ manager is Al Haymon, Lemieux’s promoters’ arch nemesis.
This would leave Lemieux with only one title chasing option: Canelo. In that case, Lemieux would probably be fed to the Mexican superstar as bait—especially if it were a fight that Golden Boy Promotions put together before the impending Golovkin battle—but in terms of Lemieux’s developing saga, that’s fine. He was never going to be a long-standing king. A beloved blood and guts warrior, however, is what he seems to be turning into.
Lemieux perhaps only has two tools in his kit: power and heart. And in this day and age, there aren’t enough fighters who have either. Lemieux is always a treat to watch. Even if he can’t hang with the A+ players like like Canelo or Golovkin, his legacy won’t be tarnished.
Arturo Gatti had his clock cleaned multiple times by guys like Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya. Gene Fullmer had his time in the limelight before “Sugar” Ray Robinson reminded him who the real champion of the 1950s Middleweight division was.
What Lemieux has in common with guys like Gatti and Fullmer is that their fans don’t care about their records, they care about a fighter that is dedicated to being an entertainer rather than a businessman. It’s why Lemieux and Golovkin sold out Madison Square Garden when they had no business in doing so.
It’s why Gatti’s fights with Micky Ward are revered as some of the best in history even though neither was ever a lineal champion. It’s why people remember Fullmer’s name at all when he fought in a decade ripe with classic talent.
David Lemieux will be just fine in 2016. Rest assured, he’ll be fun to watch.