Promoter Oscar De La Hoya was unusually blunt when talking about middleweight contender David Lemieux’s future.
De La Hoya, the Hall of Fame boxer who has developed Golden Boy into one of the most significant promotional companies in the sport, is normally a cheerleader who is always boosting one of his fighter’s chances.
But when he discussed Lemieux’s Sept. 15 fight with Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan that will be on the HBO Pay-Per-View undercard of the middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, he was a lot more straightforward.
“Lemieux-O’Sullivan is a great fight, a lot of action, but it’s a very important fight for David Lemieux,” De La Hoya told Yahoo Sports. “It’s kind of make-or-break for him. He needs this one.”
With the competition so fierce at the top of the division, none of the contenders can easily afford to lose. But since 2012, Lemieux is 14-2 with nine KOs, and his losses have come by eighth-round stoppage to Golovkin in 2015 and to WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders by unanimous decision in December.
Lemieux is hardly upset by De La Hoya’s words. He knows a lot is expected of him, but he says he can deal with the expectations because he expects a lot of himself.
“They expect a lot from me and it’s all good,” Lemieux said. “I know what I’m worth and I know what I’ll bring to the table on Sept. 15. It’s going to be a beautiful victory. I’m in great shape. I’m coming down for business. I’m coming down for big names. The first big name is going to be Gary O’Sullivan, and then we’re going to head up to some who are the real deal.”
Golovkin and Alvarez are the big names in the division, with Saunders, Jermall Charlo and Daniel Jacobs right behind them. Lemieux gave a good effort in his bout at Madison Square Garden with Golovkin, but that might have been peak GGG at that stage and Golovkin stopped him in the eighth after dominating throughout.
If Golovkin defeats Alvarez – and Lemieux said he thought Golovkin deserved to win the first fight between the two – Lemieux will be in a long line of men looking to fight him. He’ll need to do something extraordinary to capture Golovkin’s attention.
And if he were to get the rematch, he’ll have a lot of ground to cover to be able to win, but he believes he has what it takes to do so.
“Good question,” Lemieux said, grinning ever so slightly, when asked how he’d be able to turn it around and beat Golovkin should they met again.
“It would require tremendous training and tremendous preparation to beat a guy like Golovkin. That’s what I would do. The interesting thing would that after all these years that have passed, I’m reaching my peak now. Back when I fought Golovkin, he was at his peak. The difference in the rematch would be David Lemieux at his peak and knowing what he’d be facing against Golovkin.”
Though he knows what it would take to get past Golovkin, he can’t afford to think ahead too much. O’Sullivan’s only defeats were by stoppage to Chris Eubanks Jr. and by decision to Saunders, and there will be no fight with either Alvarez or Golovkin without a win.
De La Hoya made that fairly clear. And while Lemieux makes the requisite compliments about O’Sullivan, he leaves little doubt that he believes he’s the better man.
“We’re studying Gary O’Sullivan very closely throughout my camp,” Lemieux said. “We’re not worried. We’re very confident, my team and I, in what we’ll bring to the table against Gary. I’m stronger, I’m better looking and I’m the better fighter.”
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