De La Hoya: Lemieux-Stevens Will Be “All-Out Brawl”

Middleweights David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens have been waging a war of words against each other, but this weekend the time for trash talk will end. The two rivals will face off in a main event in Verona, New York, and many are expecting a vicious battle that will likely end before the final bell, with one man moving on to bigger fights and the other unconscious.

Often the fights that are anticipated to be wars end up being slower, more technical affairs. But given the styles of Lemieux and Stevens, and the hatred the two fighters have for one another, this fight is almost guaranteed to produce fireworks.

In an exclusive interview with Fight Sports, promoter Oscar De La Hoya said that fans are correct to assume that Lemieux vs. Stevens will be a barnburner.

"Oh this is going to be an all-out brawl," he said. "There’s no question about that. Right when the bell rings. They might respect their punching power in the first ten seconds but after that it’s bombs away.

"And that’s why this event and this fight is so exciting. People know, when you match up two guys who have this animosity towards each other, this hate towards each other, inside the ring it’s bombs away. We’re sure to get a candidate of Fight of the Year."

Not only is Lemieux vs. Stevens an intriguing fight because of the potential fireworks it represents, but it is also an important bout for the future of the middleweight division. With unified champion Gennady Golovkin set to fight Danny Jacobs the following weekend, and Canelo Alvarez preparing for a blockbuster catchweight fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., the winner of Lemieux vs. Stevens will elevate himself into contention when the dust settles following those massive fights.

To De La Hoya, the excitement surrounding the 160 lb. weight class harkens back to the division’s most compelling moment in history: the era of "The Four Kings", when Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran all brought the best out of each other in a series of legendary fights.

"There’s a resurgence of the middleweight division taking place as we speak," De La Hoya said. "And the last time we saw something like this was with Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvelous Marvin Hagler. So we have an opportunity to bring back that excitement back to boxing. It obviously starts with Canelo, and next in line is Golovkin. Then you have Lemieux and Stevens. So it’s a crucial time for the middleweight division, but a very important one."

Lemieux and Stevens have yet to prove that they can bring the elites of the middleweight division to the brink of defeat, as the Four Kings all did to each other in the 1980s. Both men suffered losses to Gennady Golovkin, defeats that they may only get the opportunity to avenge if they get past one another.

This fight is perhaps the most important for each man since facing GGG. The animosity between Lemieux and Stevens is no manufactured hype-job: these fighters despise one another, and each believes that he will knock the other out.

Luckily for both fighters, their exciting, violent styles mean that even the loser will not suffer an insurmountable career blow. While the winner will be that much closer to a big payday against the elites of the division, De La Hoya believes the loser won’t stumble too far down the hill.

"The winner moves on to the bigger fights, the sweepstakes fights meaning possibly fighting Golovkin, possibly fighting Canelo. But the loser, I don’t really see a loser. The uphill battle to get on top is a little steeper, but the fact that this fight is guaranteed to create fireworks, I see this as a win-win situation for both guys. It will be a little bit more difficult to get back on top, but the guy that loses is just going to have to work a little harder. That’s how good this fight is. I’ve always said in boxing: if you give your 100 percent, if you leave it all in the ring, you don’t lose."

Lemieux and Stevens will face off on March 11 at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York.

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