LAS VEGAS — For the second time in his past three fights, Canelo Alvarez will see a familiar face on his undercard in former middleweight world titleholder David Lemieux, who is essentially auditioning for an eventual big-money fight against the Mexican superstar.
While Alvarez will square off with Mexican rival Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a highly anticipated super middleweight fight — the catch weight is 164½ pounds — in the main event on Saturday night (HBO PPV, 9 ET) of Cinco de Mayo weekend at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Lemieux will be in the co-feature. He will take on Marcos Reyes in a 10-round fight contracted at 163 pounds.
It is the same situation Lemieux, a huge puncher from Montreal, found himself in last May, also at T-Mobile Arena, when he crushed Glen Tapia in a fourth-round knockout victory just before Alvarez laid waste to Amir Khan by sixth-round knockout to retain the middleweight championship in the main event.
While most boxing fans are hot to see Alvarez in a showdown with unified middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin, a fight that has been on the drawing board for more than a year and could take place in September should Alvarez handle his business against Chavez, Lemieux is ready, willing and able to take the fight as long as he defeats Reyes, against whom he is a huge favorite.
“Of course, the ultimate goal is, as [Golden Boy CEO] Oscar [De La Hoya] announced, it’s the winner of the Canelo-Chavez, which Canelo is on the radar,” Lemieux said. “But first we have Marco Reyes to take care of, which I have no doubt that we’re going to do a good job against.”
Lemieux, 28, comes into the fight with Reyes off a sensational third-round knockout of Curtis Stevens on March 11 in an HBO main event. It was a brutal knockout and a leading contender for KO of the year, which further illustrated the kind of brute force Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs) brings to the ring.
“Reyes is a solid opponent, but I am very confident in my abilities. I don’t think he will last long in the ring against me. I intend to make another statement on (Saturday). … I think he’s in big trouble.”
Lemieux lost his world title to Golovkin in a one-sided eighth-round knockout in their title unification bout in October 2015, but he has won three fights in a row since and re-established himself as a force to be reckoned with. One look at his knockout of Stevens tells that story.
Lemieux is aiming for a repeat with another big knockout.
“I’m in better shape than I was against Stevens,” Lemieux said. “I only took a week off before heading back to the gym. I could not pass up the opportunity to fight on [Saturday’s] card as the co-main event for Canelo versus Chavez Jr.
“Reyes is a solid opponent, but I am very confident in my abilities. I don’t think he will last long in the ring against me. I intend to make another statement on [Saturday].”
Said trainer Marc Ramsay: “When it comes to technique, David really is superior, so it’s going to have to show. He is very conscious of the importance of this fight.”
On paper, Reyes (35-4, 26 KOs), 29, of Mexico, appears to be a soft touch for Lemieux. Reyes is just 3-3 in his past six fights, including a decision loss to an out-of-shape Chavez and a seventh-round knockout loss to notoriously light-hitting Elvin Ayala two fights ago.
Lemieux is aware of Reyes’ record and is flip in is assessment of the fight.
“I think he’s in big trouble,” Lemieux said. “But, of course, in boxing, you don’t head to a fight thinking that you’re going to knock somebody out. He’s a very tough opponent. We’re not underestimating him. We’re going to be ready for 10 rounds if it’s necessary, and 10 hard rounds.”
Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez has been in regular touch with K2 Promotions managing director Tom Loeffler as they continue discussing a deal for Alvarez-Golovkin. But Gomez said Lemieux remains in the picture for an eventual fight with Alvarez. It could be next if a deal for the Golovkin bout can’t be made, or it could even happen after an Alvarez-GGG showdown.
“Obviously, whenever you have an exciting fighter like David, he’s good for any fight,” Gomez said. “His knockouts are incredible. So, you know, it’s something that we’ve talked about. It’s something that I know David wants, and it’s something that Canelo is interested in as well. But it depends.
“Look, they have very tough fights. Chavez Jr.’s fight with Canelo is not going to be a walkover. [Alvarez is] moving up in weight, and he’s fighting a big guy, and then David has a tough fight, too. I think immediately next, Canelo wants to fight Golovkin. We made that very clear to everybody. Canelo said it; we’ve said it, [and] Golovkin said he wants that fight.
“We think we can negotiate for that fight, but if, for whatever reason, that fight doesn’t happen, yes, David would be in line, and it’s very exciting. We got so many calls after his knockout [of Stevens]. We got calls, we got emails, [we got comments on] social media, everybody wanting to see David fight Canelo. It was incredible. But that’s what David is all about. When he has those highlight knockouts, he gets so many people excited.”
Even with Alvarez and Golovkin pointed toward each other for the fall, Lemieux wants to force the issue and be considered for the fight against Alvarez. Another big knockout against Reyes like the one he had against Stevens sure would help his cause.
“Well, after what I do [Saturday], I’m going to put myself in a position where everybody is going to want to see Canelo-Lemieux,” he said. “I’m not asking for a position; I’m going to put myself in a position. So what I do with Marco Reyes will put me in where I want to be, fighting Canelo. But first, I will take care of Reyes, who is a good fighter.”