Is David Lemieux Really A Middleweight?

March 12 was supposed to be the glorious homecoming of David Lemieux in a card set up by Eye of the Tiger Management at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal. After going nine brutal rounds against Gennady Golovkin last October, Lemieux was looking for a strong bounce-back win to begin another run towards world title contention.

Unfortunately, the comeback was scratched when Lemieux came in 2.6 pounds over the contracted 163 pound weight limit for the scheduled match versus James De La Rosa. After failing to reach an agreement with De La Rosa’s camp to compensate for the breach of contract, the main event of the night was cancelled, leaving ticket purchasers, who were expecting to see David Lemieux perform in front of an enthusiastic hometown crowd, out in the cold just a day before the fight.

David Lemieux weighing in for the De La Rosa non-event.

In a recent press release, Golden Boy Promotions and Eye of the Tiger Management confirmed that David Lemieux’s comeback will take place, just not in Montreal. Instead, a deal was finalized for him to face Glen Tapia in a middleweight bout as part of the co-main of the Canelo-Khan card on May 7th at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

But given recent accounts of his struggles to make the 160 pound limit, it now begs the question, has he outgrown the division? And will he make weight for this major opportunity on May 7?

Following his TKO loss to Golovkin, Lemieux and his team admitted that in the final days leading up to the showdown it had been a struggle for him to make the middleweight limit. In fact, his body did show evidence of an excruciating process to respect the contracted weight, as he looked weakened and dehydrated.

On fight night, possibly depleted of any energy, Lemieux was unable to withstand Golovkin’s attacks to the body. A perfect left hook to the liver forced him to take a knee in the fifth round and in the ninth, another shot to the ribs made him twist his body in pain before referee Steve Willis halted the bout. Negative consequences to the body can arise with unhealthy weight loss, which possibly contributed to Lemieux’s inability to absorb Golovkin’s power shots.

Was the strain of making 160 a factor in Lemieux
Was cutting weight a factor in Lemieux’s disappointing performance against Golovkin?

Moving forward, it seemed that Lemieux had learned his lesson. Thus he and his team emphasized an improved nutritional approach in preparation for the De La Rosa bout. Retaining the services of nutritionist Jean-François Gaudreau, David openly talked about changing his eating habits, citing his goal to reach optimum performance while easily cutting weight.

But somehow things didn’t go as planned. Lemieux came in heavy the day of the weigh-in, his physique looking rather hefty. After the ordeal, Eye of the Tiger Management’s head honcho, Camille Estephan, in an interview with Herb Zerkowksy from The Montreal Gazette, pointed to a virus that could have affected his fighters’ ability to cut weight. “Is it the virus, the new nutrition plan? I don’t know. Is it David, who didn’t do what he was supposed to do? I don’t know. But we’re going to find out.”

Aside from issuing an apology while addressing the crowd during the Olympia event, no explanation was provided by Lemieux. Whether it’s a lack of discipline, a virus, or a faulty nutrition plan, clearly there is a serious problem. If David Lemieux intends to stay in the middleweight division, some serious changes are needed. Or should he consider moving up to the super-middleweight division?

Clearly, if he fails again to make weight on May 7, something drastic will need to be done. But at 5′ 9″ Lemieux is not exactly a big middleweight. Competing against heavier men means his punching power may not have the same effect and he will be facing fighters potentially bigger and stronger than himself.

Glen Tapia: a serious test?

If the weight continues to be an issue, we can start forgetting about possible matchups against other middleweight contenders. Curtis Stevens, who’s also part of the Canelo-Khan undercard, is waiting to get a crack at Lemieux. Then there’s the rumor of Oscar De La Hoya shopping around a possible Canelo-Lemieux match before the Mexican phenom finally takes on Golovkin. Lemieux himself has been calling out GGG for a rematch, hoping for a chance at redemption versus the middleweight kingpin. But, to state the obvious, it can’t happen if Lemieux can’t make 160.

In any case, Glen Tapia is the task at hand now and we wait to see if the nutrition program will bring the desired effects or if Lemieux will go through another strenuous process to reach the contracted weight. Or if he contracts another virus. Or maybe David Lemieux is in denial and has simply outgrown the division. We’ll find out for sure on May 7.                 –Rene Ricardo Bernal

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