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Benavidez vs. Lemieux: Preview & Prediction

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Benavidez vs. Lemieux: Preview & Prediction

David-on-David violence is coming to Showtime on Saturday.

Former WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez takes on former middleweight titlist David Lemieux in a scheduled 12-round bout at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The interim WBC 168-pound title is on the line, with the winner earning a mandatory shot against undisputed champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Benavidez (25-0, 22 KOs) has twice been stripped of the green belt, once for a positive cocaine test in 2018 and once for failing to make weight for a 2020 title defense against Roamer Alexis Angulo. Despite his shortcomings, Benavidez remains undefeated and one of the most rugged and entertaining fighters in his division.

The last time we saw Lemieux in a notable fight was nearly four years ago on the undercard of Canelo-Golovkin II in Las Vegas. He wiped out Gary O'Sullivan with a left hook in the first round. However, that would mark his final fight as a middleweight.

The 33-year-old Lemieux (43-4, 36 KOs), who held the IBF version 160-pound championship but was stopped in the eighth round of his first defense against Gennadiy Golovkin, was scheduled to face Tureano Johnson on the Canelo-Rocky Fielding card three months after his win over O'Sullivan. However, it had been known for years that it was taxing for Lemieux to make middleweight.

Those struggles came to a head as Lemieux was forced to withdraw from the fight after a brutal weight cut forced the Montreal native to be hospitalized. He has only fought three times since, picking up a split decision victory and two knockouts. But none of those opponents are on the level of a Benavidez. This will be an entertaining fight for as long as it lasts. You have two guys who can hit and one fighter who has something to prove.

David Benavídez looks focused and ready for Saturday night. Photo Credit:Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Benavidez is the guy on the brink of having a breakout performance. Had he not been stripped of the WBC title a second time, he would have gotten a fight with Alvarez. Benavidez probably won't agree with that, but Canelo came to 168-pounds to become the undisputed champion, and he took care of business. He knocked out two of the three titleholders, and it just happened that Benavidez wasn't a champion at that point in time. Whether that is a coincidence or not, we can leave that up to Twitter to decide.

Lemieux appears to be on the backside of his career. On paper, this looks nothing more than a payday, but don't count him out. He single-handedly ruined the career of Curtis Stevens with a left hook in a 2017 Knockout of the Year. Then again, five years is a long time, especially in boxing.

David Lemieux looks to be more comfortable at this weight class. Can he pull the upset? Photo Credit:Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

With that said, I believe Benavidez will aim to make a statement and get Lemieux out of there early. Will he be successful? I don't believe so. For the fans who will be watching the PBC main event on Showtime or attending in the stands, it's not going to be a boring fight.

Benavidez throws every punch with bad intentions. We saw this when he fought Ronald Ellis (TKO 11). He was coming forward and battering the hell out of him, partially because he had no respect for Ellis' power. On the other hand, Benavidez stands tall, almost too tall. But he has yet to face a guy who can really pop, either. So, in a sense, he hasn't been tested on that side of the ocean. His head movement is underrated, in my opinion. The way he was able to slip shots against Ellis was an improvement over previous fights.

A victory for either fighter would be the most significant of their careers. Yes, Lemieux won a title, but Hassan N'Dam isn't a name that resonates with most boxing fans. You hear the name Benavidez, and that carries more significance. Lemieux will test him, and I wouldn't be surprised if he drops him early with a left hook.

You can pay the price when you get reckless against a big-time puncher. Overall, the ball is in Benavidez's court, given that Lemieux is 5′ 9½″ with a 70″ reach, and he stands at 6′ 0½″ with a 74½″ reach.  As long as Benavidez fights smart, applies intelligent pressure, and stays away from that left hook, I can see him getting Lemieux out of there in six rounds. The latest this fight will go is nine rounds, but even that is doubtful.

We're going to see a different David Benavidez in this fight. My prediction could be completely wrong about Lemieux scoring an early knockdown, but let's say he gets it. Benavidez will keep pushing forward, but he's going to shorten up those combinations and take a step back, closing the window for the shorter man to land with anything of note. Furthermore, as he's done efficaciously in previous bouts, Benavidez will mix up his attack with left and right hooks to the body and uppercuts upstairs. This will ultimately wear down Lemieux to the point the referee will have to step in.

Prediction: Benavidez TKO 6

Photo Credit: Lina Baker/Under the Hand Wraps

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