David Lemieux might have an uphill trek back to prominence and respect, but he didn’t waste any time taking the first steps.
The Canadian slugger pounded out a second-round TKO victory over journeyman Jaudiel Zepeda on Saturday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec as part of a domestic pay-per-view offering.
The brevity of his work in the ring this weekend is in stark contrast to the pace of his career of late, which had all but come to a screeching halt.
Once one of the most heralded prospects in the sport, Lemieux’s career was sent into a tailspin following a stoppage at the hands of Marco Antonio Rubio on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. From there, he dropped his lifelong coach Russ Anber, and soon after, a decision to veteran Joachim Alcine.
Following the Alcine loss, Lemieux was tabbed for a comeback fight on two separate occasions, but sustained hand injuries in the gym that have kept him out of active competition since December of 2011.
“This breaks the ice, for sure,” said Lemieux. “I had a difficult 2011. It was disappointing, but we’re going to climb back up the mountain that we fell off of.”
Those who support Lemieux (26-2, 25 knockouts) will be quite pleased to have seen another dominant performance from him after two setbacks. Judging by the ovation in the arena, and the fact that Lemieux was the feature attraction at the post-fight press conference (and the face on the poster), despite being in the supporting bout to Eleider Alvarez’s win over Shawn Hawk, shows that the bandwagon is still chugging along.
However, those who exited the vehicle following Lemieux’s losses will simply see the Zepeda thrashing as more target practice against non-threatening competition.
It’s a dilemma that Lemieux’s trainer and Groupe Yvon Michel matchmaker Marc Ramsay has to manage personally as well.
“As a coach, I am happy, but as the matchmaker, I expected more of Zepeda,” said Ramsay. “It’s hard to find a good opponent, especially for a puncher like David.”
Armchair cornermen everywhere have suggested that the Montreal native has stamina issues, and that he is both too focused and reliant on throwing power shots. The cries have been for him to morph more into a classic boxer and move away from the seek-and-destroy approach he’s employed for so long.
According to promoter Yvon Michel though, the “rebuilding project” is not about changing Lemieux as a fighter, but rather finding ways to accentuate his strengths.
“We will never try to turn David Lemieux into a stylist. He’s a fighter. Marc has to be able to polish him and let him do that for 12 rounds, and develop the creativity to adapt if the guy doesn’t fall right away,” said Michel, who maintains that his charge will be one of Canada’s most exciting fighters for the next decade.
The 23-year old is expected to return in August, possibly as part of the “Sho Extreme” portion of the Showtime-televised Jean Pascal-Tavoris Cloud clash (also a pay-per-view in Canada). More than likely, Michel and Ramsay will boost his level of opposition slightly for that outing once again. Perhaps then it will be more apparent if he has made any improvements.
Even Lemieux will admit that we didn’t learn anything new about him this time around, though.
“You learned that if I hit someone in the chin with a right hand, I’ll knock him out, and if I hit him with a left hook to the body, I’ll knock him out,” said Lemieux. “So you better watch out for both hands.”
Follow Corey Erdman on Twitter @corey_erdman