By Jake Donovan
David Lemieux was hoping for a statement-making performance this weekend that would propel him into a lucrative middleweight championship fight.
Instead, the former titlist will end his 2018 campaign the same way it began—with yet another fight canceled due to an inability to healthily make the 160-pound limit.
Reports from New York City have revealed that Lemieux (40-4, 34KOs) was hospitalized Friday morning to treat dehydration ahead of his planned 12-round showdown versus Tureano Johnson. The bout was due to serve as the chief support for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’s debut at Madison Square Garden versus secondary super middleweight titlist Rocky Fielding but is a medical scratch due to Lemieux once again struggling to make weight.
Sports Illustrated senior writer Chris Mannix was the first to report the development.
Wins by Lemieux and Alvarez on Saturday would have likely put the two on a collision course for a showdown next May. Plans have always called for Alvarez—win or lose this weekend—to drop back down to middleweight, where he reigns as World champion.
While a showdown with Lemieux has remained strictly a rumor during fight week, it is now out of the question after the Montreal native—who turns 30 later this month—has once again struggled to squeeze into a 160-pound frame.
Lemieux began 2018 by having to forfeit 20% of his fight purse after missing weight for an eventual 12-round win over Karim Achour this past May in Quebec City. The former middleweight titlist also saw a planned 2016 hometown showcase versus James de la Rosa get scrapped after not even coming close to making the contracted weight limit.
Both of the aforementioned occurrences came after suffering title fight losses. Lemieux briefly held a middleweight strap before suffering an 8th round knockout at the lethal hands of Gennady Golovkin in their Oct. ’15 title unification clash. He went on to win four straight before being badly outboxed by then-unbeaten titlist Billy Joe Saunders this time last year.
Two wins have followed, including a 1st round knockout over Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan this past September, on the undercard of Alvarez’ championship win over Golovkin in Las Vegas. Lemieux came in right at the middleweight limit for his highlight-reel knockout of O’Sullivan, putting an exclamation point on their bitter pre-fight buildup.
The win and his ability to make weight without issue was enough to create speculation that he was very much back on the short list of potential opponents to face Alvarez in 2019, with both promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and fighting on sports streaming platform DAZN, who will present this weekend’s show and all events featuring Alvarez and/or Golden Boy moving forward.
Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, Alvarez is already penciled in for a May 4 ring return at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. An opponent has yet to be named, but at this point can no longer justifiably include Lemieux as a viable option.
Meanwhile, the cancellation of this middleweight scrap leaves Johnson (20-2, 14KOs) without a fight. The 2008 Bahamas Olympian has been out of the ring since a 12th round stoppage loss to Sergiy Derevyanchenko in their title eliminator last August.
With Lemieux-Johnson pulled from the bill, a 130-pound clash between defending titlist Tevin Farmer and fringe contender Francisco Fonseca has been elevated to chief support. Also on the show, Ireland’s Katie Taylor—a two-time Olympian who captured a gold medal in 2012—defends her lightweight titles versus Finland’s Eva Walhstrom, an unbeaten 130-pound titlist who moves up in weight.