Hyped Montreal product David Lemieux came into his Friday Night Fights main event undefeated and on the doorstep of an alphabet title shot, maybe even a truly big fight later in the year. The 22-year-old knockout artist was a sensation, going 25-0 with 24 fights stopped early.
And tonight, he got his professional reality check.
Mexican veteran Marco Antonio Rubio (50-5-1, 43 KO) played coy in the early rounds, giving away points but covering up, surviving, playing defense and getting some timing down along the way, before rallying in the middle rounds to hurt the hometown fighter in the sixth round, then stop him in the seventh, picking up his 50th career win, and arguably the biggest.
It was a fight where we got to learn a lot about the young prospect, and not everything is so rosy. Lemieux (25-1, 24 KO) looked like an offensive monster as usual early on, but even as early as the second round I was questioning the level of energy he was wasting to largely hit the gloves of Rubio. He wasn't setting up shots, wasn't targeting an open body on Rubio as much as he could have, and wound up headhunting.
Once Rubio got him into the middle rounds, he seemed to have Lemieux's patterns figured out, and then he began to time him. The Mexican slugged away some in the sixth round, clearly winning the frame (I had also given him a closer third round), and staggered Lemieux back some.
In the seventh, though, it all came together. Rubio knocked Lemieux back hard into the corner, scoring a knockdown and leaving Lemieux on very shaky legs. Rubio pounced after the eight-count, throwing what he had at Lemieux until trainer Russ Anber stopped the fight, ending his charge's unbeaten streak and shelving his chances at glory this year.
Since I suspect Anber is going to take a little heat for the stoppage, let me say I think he made the exact right call. Lemieux was not going to get out of that round, and even if he had, the tide had seemingly turned irreversibly. To save the youngster from taking unnecessary punishment and getting knocked out hard, he made the tough decision to wave the towel. With that decision, Lemieux lives and he learns from the mistakes he made in this fight, and he comes back another day. Undefeated records are overrated, anyway. Tonight he lost the fight. He's got a lot more of them in his future.
Anber also gave Lemieux very good advice during the fight, especially between the sixth and seventh rounds when he told Lemieux that he was moving too much and putting himself at the end of Rubio's range. He was correct. But Lemieux couldn't change from Plan A, and it cost him the fight.
Fighters lose fights when they take challenges. Rubio may not be a world-beater, but he's a credible fighter and had a very smart plan tonight. He said before the fight that he wanted to take it into the later rounds and then stop Lemieux. His options on paper were take that very risk, or get blown out early trying to trade. He took the risk, and it paid off.
In the co-feature, Adonis Stenveson (14-1, 11 KO) decimated Derek Edwards (25-2, 13 KO) and knocked him out in the third round. Edwards was wide open for a simple southpaw 1-2 in this one, and Stevenson made him pay for that, flooring him twice in the second round and one more time for the win in the third frame.