David Lemieux knew what he signed up for when he agreed to hit the road for his next fight.
A dangerous showdown with unbeaten and former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist David Benavidez is on deck for Montreal’s Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs), a former IBF middleweight titlist. Their interim WBC super middleweight title fight will take place May 21 on Showtime from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona, less than 30 minutes from Benavidez’s childhood hometown of Phoenix where he has established himself as a proven draw.
In addition to hometown advantage, Benavidez is in the heart of his prime and fits in well with the class of opposition that his more experienced opponent has faced to date.
“He’s definitely part of the top guys,” Lemieux admitted during a virtual press conference with media members to discuss the upcoming fight. “He hasn’t fought yet against the elite level. He’s definitely on his way but I’m here to break that pattern.”
The fight comes about while the WBC and every other super middleweight belt is tied up by undisputed champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs), who has already mapped out his 2022 campaign.
Guadalajara’s Alvarez will next challenge WBA light heavyweight titlist Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11KOs) on May 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Win or lose, the plan is to drop back down in weight for a trilogy clash with IBF/WBA middleweight titlist Gennadiy Golovkin (42-1-1, 37KOs) who will move up to 168 pounds for a targeted September 17 clash.
The Benavidez-Lemieux winner will claim the WBC interim title along with becoming the mandatory challenger to Alvarez. However, nobody in the industry expects the fight to be ordered through the rest of the year. The winner will instead be left to seek out the best challenges possible, a familiar tale for Benavidez who has struggled to land the best competition.
Lemieux has been in there with Golovkin and Billy Joe Saunders, both resulting in title fight defeats. The 33-year-old believes there is plenty left in the tank, enough to where he’s willing to take on a dangerous foe such as Benavidez.
“For sure, I’m fighting in his hometown. It’s not to my advantage but I’m putting in all the hard work,” noted Lemieux, who has won five straight including three in a row since moving up to super middleweight. “It’s a big task but I’m going to be ready for it.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox