Michael Rosenthal

KO artist Lemieux on road to stardom?

One glance at the record of David Lemieux is enough to grab your attention: 25 fights, 25 victories, 24 knockouts.

It gets better. The middleweight from Montreal has stopped nine opponents in the first round, 21 within two rounds and only one – Jason Naugler – has lasted beyond five rounds.

That’s the kind of punching power that stirs the imagination, the kind of power Edwin Valero employed to create a buzz throughout the boxing world before his untimely demise.

And Lemieux’s handlers will point that that he’s much more than a mere puncher. He’s a very good boxer, good looking, charismatic and a favorite son of passionate fans, which combined with his lethal fists could make him a cross-over star one day soon.

Lemieux faces Marco Antonio Rubio on Friday on ESPN2.

“He’s got it all,” said Yvon Michel, his promoter. “He’s a volcano ready to erupt at any time.”

Lemieux is the classic story of a pugnacious kid who finds trouble as a result of countless street fights but at a young age discovers boxing, which turns him around.

He wasn’t a great amateur, mostly because he had a style more-suited to the pros from the beginning. The power was evident for as long as he can remember, though.

Lemieux, 22, calls his ability to incapacitate his opponents a “gift.”

“I’ve known for a long time that I can really hurt somebody if I hit them,” he told RingTV.com. “I’ve had power since I was young. Even in the amateurs I used to win most of my fights by knockout.”

Nothing changed after he turned pro. Lemieux continued to end fights early, engaging in at least part of only 55 rounds in his 25 fights. You don’t look away for a moment when he fights for fear of missing something.

Only Naugler managed to go the distance with Lemieux, losing a shutout 10-round decision that was welcomed by Lemieux.

“I was so happy,” he said. “I thought, ‘Finally I can box some rounds.’ … It felt great to go the distance. It was easy. I prepared myself well and knew that I could do this easily.”

No one can quibble with Lemieux’s results but he has yet to face top-flight opponents, which he and his team readily acknowledge. His sparring sessions with the likes of  countryman Jean Pascal, Librado Andrade and prospect Felix Diaz have been more challenging than his fights.

Michel said Lemieux is a mature 22, pointing to the young man’s unusual composure under pressure, but adds that the biggest tests are yet to come.

Rubio (49-5-1, 42 KOs) is on such test. The Mexican, also a big puncher, is a complete fighter and a proven commodity. He has won six consecutive fights (five by KO) since he was stopped by Kelly Pavlik in 2009.

A victory over Rubio would be a loud statement for Lemieux.

“Yes, this is my biggest fight,” he said. “He’s a strong guy, a big guy. And he’s a good boxer. I’ve seen a lot of his fights. He has six consecutive wins against good opponents. But he has some flaws. In has a (style) of boxing in which he does open up; there are openings. And I’m a big puncher. I’ll find those openings and it won’t be to his advantage. I’ll hit him and I’ll hurt him.

“He’s dangerous, though. He’s crazy, like a kamikaze.”

If Lemieux continues win? Michel believes the sky is the limit.

The fighter already has established a considerable following in the Montreal area, where all 25 of his fights have taken place. He, Pascal and Montreal resident Lucian Bute have no problem filling venues at home.

And Michel said he has talked with representatives of both Showtime and HBO about a long-term contract for his fighter, which would open up to him a vast U.S. market.

All Lemieux has to do is continue to end fights early.

“Pascal and Bute are very big here,” Michel said. “They are both world champions, both near the Top 10 pound for pound. They both fight on major networks in the U.S. For sure, they are on everybody’s radar here.

“I believe that although these two have brought this market to the highest level ever, David can do even better than them. I think he could be a genuine star.”

That’s what knockout after knockout will do for you.

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