By Lem Satterfield
Unbeaten middleweight prospect David Lemieux is as profuse and versatile with the various languages that he speaks as he is powerful and ambitious in the ring.
On Friday night, the hard-hitting, 22-year-old from Montreal, Canada, will pursue his 26th victory without a loss and his 25th knockout when he meets Mexico's Marco Antonio Rubio (49-5-1, 42KOs) in an ESPN televised, WBC eliminator before his partisan fans at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.
In victory over Rubio, Lemieux could be in line to face the winner of a June 4, WBC middleweight title bout between Germany's 29-year-old Sebastian Zbik (30-0, 10 knockouts) and Mexico's 25-year-old Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (41-0-1, 20 KOs), son of the former world champion boxer by the same name.
Zbik-Chavez was sanctioned as a title match up in early February, when 36-year-old former southpaw WBC king, Sergio Martinez (47-2-2, 26 KOs), of Argentina, was stripped of the belt and declared the organization's "emeritus" champion.
The WBC then elevated Zbik to the status of full champion and mandated that his first defense be against Chavez, whose Jan. 29, unanimous decision over fellow WBC contender, Billy Lyell (22-9, four KOs), 26, of Ohio, left Lemieux "not impressed," according to Lemieux's promoter, Yvon Michel.
The WBC has given the Zbik-Chavez winner the leeway to make one optional defense prior to facing Lemieux. That means that Martinez, who is coming off of last month's eighth-round stoppage of 35-year-old, southpaw WBO junior middleweight titlist, Sergiy Dzinziruk (37-1, 23 KOs), of Ukraine, could face the Zbik-Chavez winner perhaps in the fall.
With a record of 5-0, with four straight knockouts last year alone, Lemieux would then get his shot against the man who emerges from that situation.
First, however, Lemieux must take down Rubio, a winner of six straight fights, including five of them by knockout, since, himself, being stopped in the ninth round of a failed February, 2009 bid for the title against then-WBO and WBC middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik (36-2, 32 KOs), whom Martinez dethroned in April of 2010.
In his last fight, Rubio scored a January 1, eighth-round stoppage against previously unbeaten, Dominican Wilson Santana (11-1, seven KOs) in Mexico.
Having begun training for Rubio in early February in Spain, Lemieux has one, route-going effort -- that being a February of 2010, unanimous decision, 10-round, shutout rout of Jason Naugler -- to go with nine first-round knockouts and 12 other stoppage in the second round.
Only one each of Lemieux's fights has gone into the third, fourth, and, fifth rounds, respectively, where he finished Roglio Sanchez in January of 2009, ended his bout with Rodney Green in May of 2008, and, stopped Baldimir Hernandez in August of 2009.
In his most recent win in December, Lemieux thrilled the crowd at Bell Centre with a second-round knockout of 37-year-old Purnell Gates, of Grandville, Mich. Stopped for the first time in his career, Gates entered their bout with a record of 18-1 that included 13 stoppages, and was riding a 15-fight winning streak that had included 11 knockouts.
In June and April, respectively, Lemieux was back to his knockout ways as he scored second-, and, first-round stoppages of Walid Smichet and Elvin Ayala at 164 and 159 pounds.
A telling statistic about Ayala is that he battled to an October of 2007, 10-round draw with ex-junior middleweight champ, Sergio Mora (21-1-2, six KOs), who, in turn, battled to September's 12-round draw with five-time titlist Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs).
Ayala had only been stopped once prior to facing Lemieux, that, being in the 12th-round of a March, 2008 loss to then-IBF middleweight champion Arthur Abraham (31-2, 25 KOs) of Germany.
In October, Lemieux came up with a stunning, first-round knockout over former world title contender, Hector Camacho Jr., the son of the former world champion by the same name.
Camacho entered the fight with a record of 52-3-1, with 28 knockouts, and had been riding a nine-fight winning streak that included three stoppages. Camacho had been stopped for the only other time in his career in June of 2006 in the eighth round by Andrey Tsurkan.
Lemieux often spars with promotional stablemate and 28-year-old WBC light heavyweight (175 pounds) champion, Jean
Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs), who has a May 21, rematch of January's disputed, Showtime televised majority draw with 46-year-old Bernard Hopkins (51-5-2, 32 KOs).
In this Q&A, Lemieux spoke to BoxingScene.com concerning his past, present and future, including his long-range goals of facing Martinez, and, potentially, popular, Romanian-born southpaw IBF super middleweight king, Lucian Bute (28-0, 23 KOs), a 31-year-old resident of Canada.
BoxingScene.com: Ready to fight this weekend?
David Lemieux: I can't wait to fight, man. I really can't wait to fight.
BoxingScene.com: How many different languages do you speak?
DL: I speak five languages. I speak French, English, Armenian, Lebanese and a bit of Spanish. I'm learning Spanish and getting a lot better now. I learned all of these languages in different ways.
BoxingScene.com: How so?
DL: Well, my mom is Armenian, but she was born in Lebanon. So she speaks Armenian and Lebanese. And my step father is also Armenian, so the first language in the family was Armenian.
And, then I always used to speak English with friends, and I learned French in school and also with friends and everything. It's also the same with Lebanese, which I learned with friends and family.
Spanish, I've learned a lot from Pedro Diaz, my assistant trainer, and from some of my other trainers that I've had and met during training camps. There have been some guys who are Dominican and Cuban.
So I had to get with them and to start learning to speak Spanish, and that's how I developed the ability to speak that language also. Pedro is an assistant to my trainer, Russ Amber. When we go to camp, we train with Pedro.
BoxingScene.com: Do you have a girlfriend?
DL: [Laughs.] Who told you to ask me that?
BoxingScene.com: Your trainer, Yvon Michel, is that okay?
DL: [Laughs.] I knew it. No, I can't comment. No, no. I don't have a girlfriend. There's a lot of complications with these things. You know women, right?
BoxingScene.com: Do you want to raise children in the future?
DL: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I want to have a big family. I want to have five kids at least. You know, I want to build a very big family. I love kids. In my family, we were three kids.
I always told myself when I got older that I wanted to have two boys and two girls, or three boys and one girl, you know? So that's why. I want to be a family man.
BoxingScene.com: Would you allow your children to become boxers?
DL: Well, certainly not the girls. But the boys, if they like the sport of boxing, then, of course, why not? But I wouldn't push them to go into anything if they don't like it.
You've got to like boxing to go into boxing. If they don't like it, then you're not going to go into the ring and take punches for nothing.
BoxingScene.com: Why didn't you box in the Olympic games?
DL: That was never my style. When I started at like the age of 17, and I won the Golden Gloves, and after competing in several international fights and stuff like that, I decided that the amateur style just wasn't my style.
I said that, 'You know what? Forget the Olympics. I want to turn pro as soon as I can.' I was just ready to turn professional and to have a long professional career.
My style is more resembling the professional ranks than the amateur ranks. I was always a slow starter and I was always a puncher. So I would rather just take my time, build a strong base in the fight.
Similarly, I want to build a strong base as a professional and have a long career in the pros.
BoxingScene.com: When did you first turn professional?
DL: I turned pro when I was 18. I wanted to turn professional when I was 17, but Russ told me to wait a little bit. He wanted me to hold on and to not take things so fast.
We wanted to fight in the casinos in Montreal, but they're 18-and-over, so he said for me to wait a year and then turn professional so that I could fight there.
BoxingScene.com: Who is the world's best middleweight?
DL: Right now? I believe in myself and believe that I have the abilities to be a world champion. But there a lot of good fighters within the middleweight ranks. Of course, Sergio Martinez is another good fighter.
There's also [WBO champ] Dmitry Pirog, who is good. There's a lot of good fighter, but I will be world champion, soon enough.
BoxingScene.com: When do you believe that you would be ready to challenge for a world title against a Sergio Martinez or a Dmitry Pirog today?
DL: Today. Any of them, today. I'm in the best shape of my life. I can take on any of them today, tomorrow or yesterday. You name them and I'll fight them. I'm in great shape and I'm very strong.
I'm very powerful, and my defense has improved a lot. I believe that I can take any one of them.
BoxingScene.com: How is the fight going to go with Marco Antonio Rubio?
DL: I am going to knock him out, but I don't know when yet. He's a strong fighter and he's good. He's very awkward and has dangerous hands. He is someone whom you have to respect, you know?
So I'm going to go in there and not go to war with him. I believe that I am the better fighter, and I'm going to pick my shots. When the knockout comes, it comes. I don't think that it will go beyond six rounds.
BoxingScene.com: Is Marco Antonio Rubio the best fighter that you will have faced?
DL: So far, he is the best.
BoxingScene.com: What sort of performance to you believe that you need to have against Marco Antonio Rubio to enhance your marketability?
DL: I just want to annihilate him. I want to destroy him. I want to beat him and not get hit. He's a strong guy, which is obvious by his 49 wins and his 42 knockouts. I want to hit him and not get hit, which is the whole plan.
BoxingScene.com: What do you think of Sebastian Zbik and Julio Cesar Chavez as fighters?
DL: I believe that Marco Antonio Rubio is a better fighter than the both of them. But I believe that Sebastian Zbik should be Julio Cesar Chavez. I haven't studied Zbik much, to tell you the truth.
But I like his abilities, and Chavez has not yet faced a fighter as good as Zbik. So, if Zbik beats him, then I will beat Zbik, end of story.
BoxingScene.com: Would you consider a move to super middleweight if you are able to clean up the middleweight division?
DL: As fast as I can, I would do that. I love to eat.
BoxingScene.com: How are you doing with making middleweight?
DL: For this fight, I have done the best that I've ever done in my career. But then, this is also the most important fight of my career. I've been cutting down and eating and dieting very well.
My weight is incredible. Just today [Tuesday] I weighed out at the gym at 166, which, at this point, usually before the fights, I'm usually at 170. My last fight, I was at 173 at 24 hours before the weigh in.
So, I'm doing extremely well and I feel extremely powerful for this fight. I feel better than at any other time that I've ever felt. So Marco Antonio Rubio is in a lot of trouble.
BoxingScene.com: What were your sparring sessions like with Jean Pascal?
DL: I haven't sparred with him in a while. We had a few sparring sessions a few years back. He's very good. He's got good boxing ability and moves well.
So, yeah, we used to box and have good sparring sessions. So, it was very good to for me to have gained that experience.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel like your boxing skills are under appreciated because of how swiftly your fights end?
DL: Well, obviously, people have not seen much of me in the ring because of all of my knockouts. My fights are so quick and so short. But I move well, and I can also box. I'm a very good boxer.
In the gym, we practice all the time, the boxing. Moving around. Ducking, moving, everything. I can box. I can be a pressure fighter. I can be a puncher who can punch and move away. I can adapt to many, many things in the ring.
But I haven't gotten the opportunity because I haven't had long fights. With my power, I can out-power the other guy and break them down slowly. That has been the best thing to do with certain guys.
BoxingScene.com: Where does your power come from?
DL: I don't know exactly where it comes from, but I feel it within me when I want to punch. I can envision it in front of me. When I punch, I can feel it.
It's like I can really hurt somebody. I feel a lot of power in my head, and when I put it into application, and I turn my body, you know, I have a very thick torso.
When I hit the bag, I feel it. I don't know where it comes from. It's a gift. I'm a gifted puncher.
BoxingScene.com: What are your goals in life?
DL: To live long and healthy and to have a good family. In boxing, to have a good career, to become world champion, and to defend my titles for many, many years. I want to retire with a great career.
BoxingScene.com: How do you feel about the way that your career has been guided?
DL: My manager is also my trainer and coach, Russ Amber. I have known him since I was nine years old. We have a great relationship and we know each other inside and outside of the gym. We get along great and we we have a great vibe.
If there are any problems, we talk about it. My promoter is Yvon Michel, and we get along great. Everybody's happy, my performances are good. I always bring to the table what they want me to bring.
You know, I train like an animal and I always perform good. Everybody's happy. I'm happy. The company is a success, so there is no problem.
BoxingScene.com: Do you feel any more pressure fighting on ESPN?
DL: No pressure. I embrace the opportunity. I want the whole world to be watching. I want to give the best performance that I can, whichever television station is there.
I'm glad that ESPN will be there. All of them are going to be there in the future. I'm feeling no presssure. I want to give my best performance.
When I get into the ring, I forget about everything and all that's on my mind is to beat the guy in front of me. I want to do it properly and I want to do it well.
BoxingScene.com: What is among your most humorous experiences in the ring?
DL: The Hector Camacho knockout, that was pretty funny because my coach actually had to make him watch the replay of the fight on the screen because he didn't even know or believe the fight was over.
He didn't know if the fight was about to start or whether it already had been finished. It was actually very funny. It wouldn't have been funny to be in his shoes, but it was a funny reaction from him.
When you can't remember whether or not the fight has started, and you get off of your stool, and he says, 'The fight's over?' That was pretty funny. I like those knockouts.