Former two-time WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) proved to be too much for former IBF 160-lb champion David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), battering him for two rounds before his corner pulled the plug on the third round on Saturday night in their fight for the vacant WBC interim 168-lb title at the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The fight looked like it could have ended in the first round when Benavidez unloaded a flurry of shots in the final seconds that had the 33-year-old Lemieux reeling.
In the second round, Benavidez dropped Lemieux, and again, he could have knocked him out in that round as well. Lemieux fought bravely after getting up, but it was clear he wasn’t going to last much longer.
“I’m waiting for them to sign the contract,” said Benavidez after the fight when Jermall Charlo, Caleb Plant, and David Morrell Jr were mentioned as potential opponents for his next fight.
“Them b**** know what’s up. I’m right here waiting for them. I ain’t scared of nobody. I’m the youngest guy, the three-time champion in the 168-lb division. I’ll put myself against anybody, and I guarantee you I’ll knock everybody out!”
In a thrilling war, featherweight prospect Luis Nunez (17-0, 12 KOs) beat Jonathan Fierro (13-1, 12 KOs) by a narrow 10-round unanimous decision. The scores were 96-94, 96-94, and 96-94.
Former welterweight champion ‘Vicious’ Victor Ortiz (33-7-3, 25 KOs) looked good tonight in defeating the capable Todd Manuel (20-20-1, 6 KOs) by a wide 10-round unanimous decision. This is a fight that went under the radar of most boxing fans.
On the negative side, the 35-year-old Ortiz was knocked down by Manuel in the tenth round, but he was able to get up and finish out the round. Manuel isn’t a big puncher, but it was more of a case of ‘Vicious’ Victor leaving himself open while trying to finish strong.
The judges’ scores were 98-91, 98-91, and 97-92.
Ortiz still has his fast hands and looked good for a fighter that hadn’t won a fight in five years. If Vicious Victor could get active, he might be able to make things happen in the 147-lb division.
The only thing holding Ortiz back potentially would be his punch resistance, as his chin has betrayed him a number of times over the years.
Super lightweight Richardson Hitchins (14-0, 6 KOs) stopped Angel Rodriguez (12-11-3, 5 KOs) in the fourth round of a scheduled ten-rounder.
David Lemieux has the power to win if he can land one of his big left hooks on the button, but that’s a big if.
No one has come close to defeating Benavidez during his nine-year professional career, and many boxing fans view him as the #1 fighter in the 168-lb weight class. Even the great Canelo Alvarez wants no part of Benavidez, and the same applies to Jermall Charlo.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) vs. Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs) will be televised live on Showtime at 10 pm from the Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
“When I get the fighters that are really good, they bring the best out in me. I’m just looking forward to that,” said David Benavidez to Fight Hub TV. “It won’t be an easy fight, but I feel I can knock [Jermall] Charlo out.
“I had a lot of success when I sparred with Bivol. We had a good sparring session and a lot of good sparring sessions. So I know for a fact that I could have done better than Canelo [against Bivol].
“When I was in sixth grade, they asked me what I wanted to be when I got older. I told them I wanted to be a world champion,” said Lemieux to Showtime Sports.
“There I was at 27, winning the world title. I was so proud, so happy,” Lemieux said about his 12-round unanimous decision win over Hassan N’Dam in 2015 to capture the IBF middleweight title.
“I’d never seen a guy get hit so hard and come back up like it was nothing. I hit him really hard, and I know what I did in the ring with him.
“It was a great night. I really deserved that title, and then I fought Golovkin. When I got in the ring with him, he was a hell of a fighter. I was very impressed. I learned a lot from that fight, and got a lot of experience.
“We’ve been rebuilding at 168, and now we’re back fighting for a world title,” said Lemieux.
“David Lemieux, I have a lot of respect for. A lot of other fighters could have taken this fight. Nobody stepped up to the plate except for David Lemieux,” said Benavidez.
“It seems like all the guys that other fighters don’t want to fight, they send them to David Lemieux,” said Lemieux. “I take them. ‘Bring them here, no problem.’
“I’m confident going into a fight with David Benavidez. He’s a guy that comes to fight, and I like to come to fight. We’re definitely going to give the fans a great show.
“We see a lot of vulnerabilities, and that’s what we’re going to take advantage of. I’m going to hit him, and I’m going to hit him very uniquely. The David Lemieux way.
“When you stop learning, that’s when it’s time to change careers because there’s always something new to learn. If you stop updating, you’re not going to function as well as somebody that keeps updating and building.
“Now, in 2022, my mindset is different. I’ve grown and gotten experience. I know what it’s like to work hard and get this kind of fight. You need the tools, and you need the mentality that comes with it.
“When fight time comes, I’m going to do what I need to do to beat him, to hurt him. It’s now or never,” said Lemieux.
David Benavidez and David Lemieux share the main event tonight in a fight for the vacant WBC 168-lb title. Lemieux, a left-hook knockout artist, will be trying to score a big upset tonight against the two-time WBC super-middleweight champion Benavidez.
Going into this match, the former IBF middleweight champion Lemieux, 33, is being counted out by most fans, who see him as being out of his league against the much younger 25-year-old Benavidez.