By Sean Crose
Make no mistake about it, former IBF middleweight champ David Lemieux took quite a beating from Gennady Golovkin last fall in their middleweight title unifier. No one can argue, however, that Lemieux, now 34-3, didn’t come across as a brave and noble foe for the feared GGG. That’s why it’s somewhat odd that the man’s return to the ring this weekend against James De La Rosa is receiving so little press. While fighters who are arguably safety-first like Billy Joe Saunders receive attention, individuals who put it all on the line like Lemieux did last fall are oftentimes overlooked. Perplexing. Saunders may hold a belt but there’s no question who most fans would feel represents the sport more honorably (yeah, there’s honor involved in boxing, despite all the cynicism that surrounds it).
With that in mind, many Americans will have to polish up on their Spanish if they intend on seeing Lemieux this weekend on television, because his fight is going to be televised on Fox Deportes. Not Fox Deportes and Fox Sports 1 simultaneously. Just Fox Deportes. How the mighty do fall. Naturally Lemieux is looking to impress. Sadly, though, a great performance may not help his cause. Golovkin has already soundly beaten the man, after all. What’s more, it’s arguable that Saunders, of even Canelo Alvarez wouldn’t want to run the risk of facing the Canadian slugger.
Sure enough, Lemiuex, like the sport in which he earns his living, may be stuck in a marketing nightmare. He’s not popular enough to headline on, say, HBO – or even Fox Sports 1, it seems – yet he may be just too good at what he does to get more big fights in this age of cherry picking. Still, all hope is not lost. Things may indeed start looking up, both for Lemieux and perhaps even (gasp!) the sport of boxing. For the modern era, with its stream of Tweets, videos and postings, is not friendly to those who don’t challenge themselves. Sooner or later, a fighter has to accept a legitimate challenge or fade into obscurity.
The question, though, is can Lemieux ride out what may well be a dry spell in his career? If De La Rosa’s last fight – which occurred well over a year ago – was any indication, Lemieux shouldn’t have a problem riding it out this weekend, at least. For De La Rosa, now 23-3, was battered thoroughly by the undefeated upstart Hugo Centeno Jr before being knocked out on that occasion back in late 2014.
With that in mind, it’s good to remember that Lemieux himself took quite a beating his last time out, the kind of beating that could arguably have a lasting effect on the man. Will Lemieux be the same after being pummeled by GGG? At twenty-seven years of age, the man should clearly still be in his prime, at least physically. Better, after all, to take a Golovkin sized loss in your twenties than in your mid-thirties. Still, it’s yet to be decided what kind of impact the loss to Golovkin – which occurred at a sold out Madison Square Garden and live on pay per view will have.
As always, time will tell the tale.