David Lemieux and Hassan N’Dam gave fight fans in Montreal everything they could have possibly asked for as the two middleweights went to war for 12 brutal rounds at the Bell Centre last night in a fast-paced battle that had the crowd repeatedly roaring and on their feet. Both men showed heart and courage to spare, but in the end Lemieux’s power was the difference maker as he scored four knockdowns and won the match by unanimous decision.
There was no warming up or feeling out process in this bout. From the opening bell Lemieux tore after N’Dam, throwing vicious power shots to both body and head. But if round one was fast-paced, the second stanza was a three minute war featuring non-stop action from start to finish, as well as Lemieux’s first knockdown, courtesy of a powerful left hook to N’Dam’s head.
But the courageous native of Cameroon quickly rose and went right back to work. Despite absorbing heavy blows from his powerful opponent, N’Dam was never guilty of excessive holding or of turning the fight into a track meet. Though truth be told, the latter option wasn’t really available as the ring in the Bell Centre definitely appeared on the small side.
N’Dam rebounded to outbox Lemieux in round three, but just as the match appeared to be shaping up to be a highly entertaining and closely contested affair, Lemieux scored two more knockdowns in round five. Both were again the result of the Montreal native’s explosive left hook.
N’Dam rose from the knockdowns and continued to fight back. In fact, he appeared to be winning round seven when he was floored a fourth time, again from a left hook. And so it went: an exciting and entertaining battle which was defined by Lemieux’s heavy artillery and N’Dam’s courage. Both men absorbed plenty of punishment, though N’Dam simply lacked the power to seriously hurt the Montrealer. He had his moments though and at times was clearly outboxing Lemieux. In fact, most of the late rounds belonged to N’Dam including round twelve. But of course it was not nearly enough to overcome the four knockdowns.
The mutual respect between the two fighters was openly displayed as soon as the final bell rang. The men embraced several times and held up each other’s hands to the crowd. Lemieux, evidently impressed by his opponent’s courage and determination, even gave N’Dam a kiss. It was gratifying to see such an open display of sportsmanship after such a hard-fought contest.
With the victory Lemieux earns the IBF middleweight belt and puts himself in the championship mix with Miguel Cotto and Gennady Golovkin. A match-up with either of those two would give boxing fans a most entertaining scrap, though Lemieux vs N’Dam has set the bar pretty high.
On the undercard, Montreal’s Dierry Jean retained his North American Boxing Federation lightweight title with a ten round decision over Jerry Belmontes of Texas. Jean scored a knockdown in round two and had Belmontes hurt in round nine.
Also of note, Montreal’s Schiller Hyppolite found himself in a tough battle with Kevin Thomas Cojean of France. Hyppolite earned the ten round decision but failed to impress. And highly touted prospect Steven Butler was fortunate to escape with a draw after going eight difficult rounds with Jamie Herrera. Butler scored knockdowns in rounds one and two, but Herrera refused to fold and came roaring back, giving Butler all he could handle. Word is Butler suffered an injury to his right hand in the match. — Robert Portis