After David Lemieux won the IBF version of the middleweight title with an impressive battering of Hassan N’Dam, a Lemieux vs Golovkin fight became one of the more desirable matches to be made in a middleweight division where most of the elite have shown zero interest in facing Triple G. Few thought the fight would happen any time soon; surely it made more sense for Lemieux to first cash in and make some money with a couple of safe title defenses.
Instead, with Oscar De La Hoya and Bernard Hopkins cheering him on, Lemieux stepped up and the resulting buzz for Golovkin vs Lemieux was intense. Anticipating a thrilling, Hagler vs Hearns type shootout between two huge punchers, fans sold-out Madison Square Garden and looked forward to some exciting action in a year when the most high profile fights offered precious little.
Instead of a hellacious shoot-out, fight fans got a methodical beatdown. Lemieux had his moments and landed some good shots, but the moments were few and far between and the shots had little to no effect on Golovkin. The gap in skill between the two men proved decisive; Golovkin has far greater experience, both amateur and professional, and it showed right from the opening bell as the Kazakh imposed his will behind a hard left jab and his usual excellent foot work. Lemieux had no reply to the jab, which proved incredibly accurate, and could not find his range or rhythm. Golovkin set the terms and maintained control for almost the entire match while Lemieux struggled to establish any kind of effective attack.
Power alone was Lemieux’s only hope, but when he did land solid shots the blows appeared to have little effect and only earned him more punishment in return. A vicious left hook to the liver in round five forced Lemieux to take a knee and when he went down Golovkin clocked him with a right hand. A point deduction would have been entirely appropriate but the referee settled for a warning. Credit to Lemieux for not immediately pitching to his face and forcing the referee’s hand; many in the same situation would have done so.
Round six saw Lemieux’s most effective work though he still lost the round. He landed some good shots to both body and head but Golovkin took them and came right back with his own punches. In round seven the match became decidedly one-sided and referee Steve Willis appeared increasingly concerned for Lemieux’s welfare. When another hard left hook to the liver almost knocked Lemieux down in round eight, the referee stopped the fight.
Firstly, big props to Lemieux for taking this match. It cannot be said too often: most boxers in his position would have opted for some easy paydays instead of taking the big risk and facing the most dangerous opposition available. The sport needs more boxers with Lemieux’s courage and desire to compete.
All that said, the one-sided nature of the resulting contest means Lemieux walks away with little to look forward to. There would be zero interest in a rematch, though Lemieux, clearly unhappy with the stoppage, desires one. Instead it appears likely the Montrealer will have to bide his time with a fight or two against some of Golovkin’s leftovers. Anyone for Lemieux vs Curtis Stevens?
Meanwhile, for Golovkin there is now only one fight that matters: facing the winner of the upcoming Cotto vs Canelo clash. Otherwise, once one subtracts those boxers associated with Al Haymon and who will not do business with HBO, Golovkin has pretty much cleaned out the middleweight division. So for the time being, it’s a waiting game: will either Canelo or Cotto have the guts to step up and face the Kazakh destroyer? Without a doubt, Gennady has earned that fight, which will be huge, both for his legacy and for the sport. In the meantime, we can likely look forward to Golovkin taking on Tureano Johnson, who won on the undercard. — Robert Portis