David Benavidez and David Lemieux are reportedly set with a date on Showtime, as the two slugging super middleweights will meet on May 21, according to ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, with the interim WBC 168 lb title on the line.
Benavidez (25-0, 22 KO) and Lemieux (43-4, 36 KO) would be fighting ostensibly to get a crack at Canelo Alvarez, probably in 2023, if Canelo decides that’s what he wants to do. As we know, Canelo is set to return to DAZN for fights in 2022, one in May against Dmitry Bivol, one in September meant to be against Gennadiy Golovkin, and possibly a third in December, which seems like it might wind up being something of a cash-in matchup, but with Alvarez you never really know.
Benavidez, 25, has twice held the WBC super middleweight title without losing it in the ring. His first reign ended when he was stripped after testing positive for cocaine in 2018, and his second when he was stripped for failing to make weight for a 2020 fight with Roamer Alexis Angulo.
The 33-year-old Lemieux is a former middleweight titleholder who has won five straight since his 2017 loss to Billy Joe Saunders, but he’s also been flying pretty far under the radar in those bouts. Golden Boy seemed intent on having him face Canelo at 160 for a while, but it never worked out, and Lemieux was struggling to stay at 160 anyway. His past three fights have been as a super middleweight, two in Canada and one in Mexico, and he scraped by in the toughest of those matchups, a split decision win over Maksym Bursak in Montreal in late 2019.
Lemieux is a dangerous puncher, but he’s also come up short in his career against better opponents, dating back to prospect train being derailed in 2011 with back-to-back losses to Marco Antonio Rubio and Joachim Alcine. But he’s hung around for another decade-plus now, which some people didn’t expect he would after those two defeats.
Benavidez will be a pretty significant favorite here, but Lemieux’s power means he can never be fully ignored. Even Gennadiy Golovkin — though he dominated their 2015 fight in the end — showed it proper respect. But Benavidez is naturally larger, a good puncher himself, and probably has a deeper well of skills to dip into when needed.
It could be an explosive fight however it pans out, and it’s a fine main event for Showtime in a spring that’s shaping up to have several. It looks like Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano will rematch on May 14, and there will be more coming. And across the board, boxing is shaping up to have a huge couple of months at least in April and May after a really ragged run on the schedule since December.