To say that he envisions a knockout is not to say that David Benavidez is overlooking David Lemieux or any other opponent.
The confidence in not allowing the fight to go to the judges is the combination of more than four months of hard work and a styles matchup that suggests an explosive night for however long their fight lasts.
“My mission is always to stop my opponents,” Benavidez told BoxingScene.com, the proof coming in stoppage wins in each of his last five fights. “I go out there to seek and destroy. It’s not that I’m looking for the knockout, but based on our styles and my confidence in what I can do… I can’t see any other version of this fight than action packed.”
The anticipated slugfest takes place May 21, with the interim WBC super middleweight title at stake in their Showtime-televised main event from Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona. The fight is the second straight in Benavidez’s childhood home region, having earned a seventh-round stoppage of Kyrone Davis last November 13 in his Phoenix hometown.
Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs) has not gone the distance since a pair of decision wins over Ronald Gavril to win and defend the WBC super middleweight title during his first reign. Among his current five-fight knockout streak is a ninth-round stoppage of Anthony Dirrell to regain his WBC belt in September 2019, only to lose the belt at the scale after missing weight ahead of a one-sided, tenth-round stoppage of Alexis Angulo in August 2020.
Montreal’s Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs) is a former IBF middleweight titlist who is known as a puncher first, often with little regard for defense. The 33-year-old Canadian-Armenian enters riding a five-fight win streak, all since moving up to middleweight but nowhere near what he will face in a younger, hungrier Benavidez.
“We’re not boxers, we’re not going in there to run around the ring,” insists Benavidez. “I do believe that once he tastes my power, he might try to box a little more than he usually does but we’ll see. I feel like David Lemieux is ready to go out on his shield.
“This is a big opportunity for both of us. I’m not leaving that ring without the title around my waist.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox