Glynn Evans delivers all you need to know about the crunch punching Canadian who challenges unbeaten WBO Middleweight boss Billy Joe Saunders in Montreal this weekend. BoxNation screen live.
1) David Lemieux was born in the Montreal suburb of Laval on 22nd December 1988. He turns 29 six days after the Saunders fight. His mother, and step father who raised him, were both Armenian and he spoke Armenian at home. He is also fluent in French, English, Arabic and Spanish. His biological French father absconded during his mother’s pregnancy and Lemieux claims they have never met. He has an elder brother and younger sister.
2) Lemieux endured a troubled childhood and claims he first experimented with drugs when he was just eight-years-old. From his kindergarten years, Lemieux was an incorrigible brawler on the pavement and in the playground and was expelled from St-Francis-de-Laval school for persistently starting fights. At the age of nine, he was steered to the ‘Ring 83’ boxing gym where he was coached by Russ Anber for the next 13 years. As a teenager, he featured in a series of ‘Title Boxing’ instructional DVDs.
3) Starting out at 11, Lemieux was defeated in all of his first four amateur bouts. He rebounded to win 16 straight and four national junior titles, concluding his unpaid career with a CV of 91 wins and just 12 defeats. He boxed twice as an amateur in Ireland in 2006. He cites his childhood boxing heroes as ‘old school fighters’ Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis.
4) In April 2007, the 18-year-old super-welterweight signed a professional deal with Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM). He was co-trained by Pedro Diaz, who was involved with 24 Cuban Olympic gold medallists and often set up camp in The Dominican Republic. A regular feature on ESPN, in his first 32 months the potent punching Lemieux racked up 25 consecutive wins with 24 victims failing to finish. Nine fell in the first round, a further dozen capsized in round two. Only super-middle Jason ‘Notorious’ Naugler made it home, outscored over 10 in a February 2010 clash for the vacant Canadian 12 stone title.
5) However, 2011 proved a disastrous year for the then 22-year-old. In April free-swinging Lemieux ran out of petrol after dominating Mexico’s future WBC ‘interim’ champion Marco Antonio Rubio and was dropped and stopped in round seven. Despite re-aligning to coach Marc Ramsey’s high-flying camp, he flunked his comeback eight months after, dropping a 12 round majority decision to former stablemate and one-time WBA Super-Welter boss Joachim Alcine.
6) Re-grouping under Ramsey – who also pilots Jean Pascal, Artur Beterbiev and Eleider Alvarez – the 5ft 9½ in Lemieux improved to stop seven of his next eight opponents. Back-to-back routs of ex WBO challenger Fernando Guerrero (KO3) and Gabriel Rosado (TKO10, cuts) cemented a shot at the vacant IBF title against Frenchman Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in his home city in June 2015. Though outboxed for long periods, lethal Lemieux registered four knockdowns to claim a clear unanimous decision and the title.
7) Thirty-six of Lemieux’s 41 paid gigs – including all of the first 34 – took place in his home province of Quebec and his coronation against N’Dam was one of 16 starts at the 22,000 capacity Bell Center (home of the Montreal Canadiens NHL franchise). The Canuck’s kayo kick brought reverence among fiercely proud and patriotic Quebecois and the handsome ‘devil’ enjoys a sizeable female fan base. He is no stranger to the city’s nightclubs. Saturday’s title challenge to Saunders pans out at the recently opened $200m Place Bell in his native suburb of Laval.
8) His title reign lasted just 118 days. In October 2015, he rolled the dice in a unification match with WBA Super and WBC ‘interim’ champion Gennady Golovkin before 20,548 at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, he was schooled and stopped - still standing - in eight rounds. The bang-up was screened on HBO pay-per-view and 150,000 buys at $60 a time brought Lemieux a soothing seven figure purse for the beating.
9) Four comeback wins (two quick) in the ensuing 26 months have elevated Lemieux to mandatory challenger status with the WBO. The short left hook that left New York’s trash-talking Curtis Stevens unconscious will be on the short list for Kayo of the Year. His record presently rests at 38-3 with a daunting 33 stoppage wins. With almost 87% of victims succumbing before finish, Lemieux is among the most explosive punchers currently active at any weight. Eighteen opponents endured the humiliation of the ‘full ten count’ with short arm hooks and uppercuts his favoured weapons of mass destruction. ‘When I get into the ring, I get into a different body. I am a robot. I am no longer human. I have to destroy what is in front of me,’ he says.
10) Signed to Camille Estephan’s Eye of the Tiger Management and promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, today destroyer David lives in the Montreal suburb of Cartierville. He has a son and a daughter from previous relationships. When he isn’t leaving opponents seeing stars, his hobbies include ‘astronomy, astrology and spiritual awakenings’. He is a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team.
11) Despite home court and an obvious advantage in firepower, Lemieux enters Saturdays HBO/BoxNation/BT screened WBO title fight against Saunders as a marginal 11/10 underdog. The Hatfield traveller, unbeaten in 25 but fighting outside the UK for the first time as a pro, is the fourth world champion he has confronted (after Alcine, N’Dam and Golovkin). Whilst Lemieux’s CV shows he has the experience of 16 more fights than Saunders, his concussive clubbing has resulted in eight fewer rounds (155 to 163) and he will be banking on that potent punch making him a two time world champion this weekend. ‘I will take Saunders’ ‘0’, take his belt, and take part of his DNA,’ he warns.
Buy BoxNation to watch David Lemieux challenge Billy Joe Saunders on December 16th. Sky TV customers can use code BOXINGDAY for free registration (saving £8).