Gennady Golovkin has been the hottest attraction in the sport for the past three years. A 20-fight KO streak will do that for a fighter. The undefeated WBA champion has managed to develop into a pay-per-view headliner, even while being the most-avoided man in boxing.
Make no mistake, it’s largely GGG’s reputation that will be packing Madison Square Garden on October 17, while motivating fans all over the country to pony up hard-earned dollars for PPV.
But while Golovkin is clearly the “A Side” fighter in this equation, his opponent, David Lemieux, is a young and noteworthy talent. If not for Golovkin’s march of destruction, it would be Lemieux who would be getting all the ink as the hot fighter at middleweight.
Based out of fight-mad Montreal, Lemieux appeared on a path to stardom even in his early 20s. After turning professional at age 19, he won his first 20 bouts by stoppage. After his first 25 fights, he had a perfect record, with 24 KOs.
Then, at just age 22, he made his first real step up in competition, facing the tough veteran, Marco Antonio Rubio, in April 2011. After strong start, Lemieux fell apart when Rubio stayed in front of him. By the middle rounds, Rubio was picking him apart and stopped him in Round 7. Eight months later, he lost a majority decision to fringe contender Joachim Alcine.
That’s the kind of year that a lot of hyped boxing prospects never recover from. But Lemieux has kept fighting over the past four years and has become a better all-around boxer. He’s won nine straight fights, with seven by stoppage. Earlier this year he was sharp and dangerous against Hassan N’Dam, knocking him down four times and capturing the vacant IBF middleweight belt by unanimous decision.
While he is getting less attention than his rival heading into this unification bout, the newly crowned belt holder knows what kind of a breakthrough this bout could represent for his career. If he pulls off the upset, he’s suddenly not only a major star in Canada, but across the entire continent and throughout the world.
In the comments he made at an open media workout in Montreal on Wednesday (provided by HBO Sports), he sounded confident . “Golovkin has never faced a fighter like me before,” he said.
Lemieux’s promoter, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, echoed the fighter’s sentiment: “Everyone is so accustomed to seeing Golovkin be a forward and aggressive boxer, but I don’t think he will do that with David. David will put the pressure on him and it will be an advantage for David.”
Realistically, I feel Golovkin will win this by a stoppage. But it’s not hype to say that Lemieux represents a different kind of challenge for the wrecking machine from Kazakhstan. Aside from perhaps Curtis Stevens, nobody GGG has faced hits harder than Lemieux. And Stevens lacked the kind of punch selection and ability to string together combinations that Lemieux has shown against tough, athletic fighters like N’Dam.