Former IBF World middleweight champion, David Lemieux makes it two in a row, after his devastating 2015 loss to Gennady Golovkin, defeating the sturdy Cristian Fabian Rios in his hometown of Montreal on Saturday night.
Lemieux looked less than stellar in victory but got some good work going the distance against a durable Argentine southpaw that has never been knocked out.
“I am very happy,” said Lemieux’s trainer Marc Ramsay. “These are the things that are needed for David’s development. “Now I have material that I could use to sit with him and watch what we did, which hasn’t happened too often in the past, unfortunately. It’s very difficult when you have to base decisions on only one or two rounds of film.”
Lemieux and Rios took turns stalking each other in the opening rounds. The visitor worked well behind the jab, keeping Lemieux’s offense at bay, especially when exchanging in the center of the ring.
In the second round, Lemieux cornered Rios and landed a handful of vicious body shots but Rios refused to get pushed around. He telegraphed a left hook that pushed Lemieux off-balance and elicited a grimace from the former champion.
A cautious Rios continued to try his luck with his lengthy left hand in the third, but Lemieux’s counter attacks and constant pressure sent Rios on a perimeter tour of the ring to avoid the Canadian’s offense.
In the middle rounds, Lemieux made some adjustments to offset Rios’s high guard. He blasted the body often, strongly, and effectively, opening his opponent up to one-two combinations up top.
Lemieux was at his best during this segment of the fight but his sluggish defense and non-existent head movement left the Quebecois open to shots that, had they been thrown by a stronger puncher, may have seriously hurt the former champion.
In the seventh, Lemieux landed a lunging straight right hand on his rival against the ropes. Rios countered with a left uppercut, right jab combination that knocked Lemieux off balance seconds before the bell.
The later rounds consisted of a lot of the same, except slower and sloppier- Rios circling left and launching nervous counters, Lemieux chasing, measuring, waiting to unload his right hand, Rios running some more, Lemieux catching up, cornering and attacking against the ropes, Rios escaping with left hand counters, rinse, repeat.
In the tenth, the hometown fighter tried to close out the show after landing a solid right hand on Rios, but the iron-chinned Argentine made it to the final bell, as he had in his previous 31 fights.
“There are things I would have loved to have done 10 times better,” said Lemieux. “I made mistakes early in the rounds, which may have cost me the knockout. I found that there are things on which I can greatly improve, and I will be back in the gym to work on those.
With his victory, Lemieux puts himself in position for a shot against Golden Boy Promotions poster child Canelo Alvarez, or another title opportunity in 2017, perhaps against WBO World middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders, if the Brit holds on to his belt through his next fight and mandatory defenses.