The reality of his being his last shot at the top level is not at all lost on David Lemieux.

It’s a tough way to prove his worth, as the former IBF middleweight titlist from Montreal is a heavy underdog in his upcoming crossroads clash with Phoenix’s David Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs). The two collide for the interim WBC super middleweight title, with the 25-year-old Benavidez as high as a 25-1 betting favorite among several reputable sportsbooks to prevail in their May 21 Showtime headliner near Benavidez’s hometown at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona.

Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs) has won five straight but is considered to be in the twilight of his career, given his all-action fighting style and the number of grueling fights he’s had to date. It’s reflected in the odds, as the 33-year-old is as much as a 9-1 underdog to pull off the upset on the road against a fresher and bigger foe.

“Regardless of age, it’s really now or never in every fight in the boxing ring,” Lemieux admitted to and other reporters during a recent Zoom media conference call. “You don’t get many chances to leave a good mark in the fight game. Every fight is to be taken seriously, especially a fight of this magnitude with (an interim) world title. A lot is at stake for me.

“I know Benavidez is a young, hungry fighter and wants to put on a show for the fans. So do I, and I’m going to do my best to apply what David Lemieux can still do. I will bring that title home to my people.”

Lemieux won the IBF middleweight belt following a June 2015 unanimous decision over Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam. The feat marked the last of a nine-fight win streak after suffering back-to-back losses earlier in his career. Lemieux’s stay didn’t last long, suffering an eighth-round knockout to then-unbeaten Gennadiy Golovkin in their October 2015 WBA/IBF/IBO/interim WBC middleweight title unification bout at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

The lone other loss since then came in December 2017 points loss to then-undefeated WBO middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders. Five wins have followed, including his last three at super middleweight where he aims to become a two-division champ. It will mean overcoming the odds, a hostile crowd and—most importantly—a motivated Benavidez who owns just about every physical advantage in this matchup and has designs on becoming a three-time WBC super middleweight champ.

“I don’t care. I’m just going in there to fight, underdog or not,” vowed Lemieux. “I’ve been the underdog in the past, so it doesn’t bother me. I know what I can do, how hard I train and what can happen once I’m the ring.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox