Falling in Love All Over Again

David Lemieux is a heart-breaker. Sporting GQ good looks and highlight reel punching power, he has all the potential to become a major star, in boxing and beyond. With the backing now of Oscar DeLaHoya and Golden Boy Promotions, as well as HBO, Lemieux just needs to keep winning fights and both stardom and huge paydays are assured.

An entire city is just waiting to believe in him again, ready to fall in love all over again, but Montreal knows better than to let someone break their heart more than once. But if all goes well for Lemieux and his backers next month, “The Fight City” may not be able to help itself. Montreal may once more swoon for Lemieux and a romance even sweeter than the first one could blossom.

Ndam-Lemieux

The date itself is auspicious. Lemieux will clash with top middleweight contender Hassan N’Dam at the Bell Centre and in front of HBO’s cameras on June 20, precisely 35 years to the day when Montreal’s long love affair with “The Sweet Science” saw perhaps its most rapturous night. On that date back in 1980, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran battled for the welterweight title in front of a massive crowd at the city’s Olympic Stadium. It was a signature event, both for boxing and for Montreal, a contest which ushered in “The Four Kings” era and, following the 1976 Olympics, further established “La Belle Ville” as a global centre for major sporting events.

Of course Lemieux and N’Dam are nowhere near Duran and Leonard in terms of both ring achievements or drawing power, but it’s a bit of synchronicity which shouldn’t be lost on the organizers of the event. Here’s hoping HBO brings Duran and Leonard to Montreal for an anniversary reunion.

A lot to live up to: June 20 is an auspicious date.
A lot to live up to: June 20 is an auspicious date.

But in its own way, Lemieux vs N’Dam is a highly significant match, one which could establish Lemieux as arguably Montreal’s most popular pugilist, which is saying something when boxers such as Adonis Stevenson, Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute remain in the mix. But again, some convincing may be required; Lemieux has some missteps to make up for.

As we all remember, David Lemieux has looked like a can’t-miss prospect before. Back in 2011 his star was rising and the city was more than willing to give the handsome young knockout artist its heart on a golden platter when everything came to a crashing halt. Lemieux took a battering from Marco Antonio Rubio and was stopped in seven rounds.

Will N'Dam break Lemieux's heart?
Will N’Dam break Lemieux’s heart?

In his very next fight, another disaster: underrated contender Joachim Alcine, supposedly a soft touch, outworked Lemieux over twelve rounds and took a clear-cut decision.

At that point, everyone thought it was the end of the affair. Montreal and Lemieux went their separate ways, and most boxing pundits figured the romance was over for good.

But to Lemieux’s credit, he did not give up. Six months later he was back in the ring and this time doing what made Montrealers take notice of him in the first place: knocking guys out with vicious power punches. Six more wins followed, all but one inside the distance, before he was given a chance to make some serious noise at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn and on HBO. The opponent was middleweight gate-keeper Gabriel Rosado and Lemieux had clearly learned his lesson from past setbacks. He dominated the tough Rosado, winning almost every round, before scoring a TKO in round ten.

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Against Rosado, Lemieux looked like the real deal again.

Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam is arguably a tougher test than Rosado. Sporting a significant height and reach advantage, the Cameroon native will look to patiently outbox Lemieux, much as he did tough contender Curtis Stevens last October. The Lemieux vs N’Dam fight will not only be for the vacant IBF world middleweight title, but also to see who may be next in line for lucrative matches with Gennady Golovkin or Miguel Cotto. Imagine if either of those champions journey to Montreal to take on Lemieux! Talk about falling in love …

So on June 20th, it will be up to Lemieux to not only win, but to win impressively. If he does, Montreal’s never-ending love affair with boxing will have a new flame.            

— Robert Portis

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