David Lemieux insists to anyone who will listen that his fight with David Benavidez is far more than one last payday.

The former IBF middleweight titlist has arrived in the greater Phoenix area with every intention of playing the spoiler this weekend. Montreal’s Lemieux faces an uphill battle in that regard, as he enters as the heavy betting underdog ahead of their interim WBC super middleweight title fight at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Arizona (Saturday, SHOWTIME, 10:00 pm ET/7:00 pm PT).]

The way that Lemieux sees things, it’s his unbeaten opponent who is entering dangerous—and unknown—waters.  

“He’s a great fighter and you can’t take anything away from him, but he’s never fought David Lemieux and he will see what that means on Saturday night,” insisted Lemieux. “I know what I’m going in there against. Does he know what he’s going in against?”

Lemieux (43-4, 36KOs) rides a five-fight win streak along with a wave of confidence marching into the home region of Benavidez (25-0, 22KOs), who grew up in nearby Phoenix and fights in the area for the second straight time. The fight is dual purpose for Benavidez–another homecoming and the chance to secure his place as the unavoidable mandatory challenger for undisputed super middleweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-2-2, 39KOs).

Missing from the resume of the unbeaten former two-time WBC super middleweight titlist is a deep roster of notable foes. Saturday will mark just his second career fight against a former or current titlist, with Lemieux among the most accomplished opponents that Benavidez will have faced to date.

It’s also a step up in class for Lemieux from where he has been following his stay as a top middleweight.

A brief title reign came to a close in October 2015, when Lemieux was stopped inside of eight rounds by then-unbeaten Gennadiy Golovkin in their WBA/IBF/IBO/interim WBC middleweight unification bout at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Four wins followed before falling well short versus then-unbeaten WBO middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders in December 2017.

Five wins have followed, including his last three at super middleweight heading into Saturday’s interim title fight. Some of his 43 career wins have come easy; others have been all-action slugfests. The intention is to showcase every bit of his 15-year body of work in what could very well be his last fight of major significance.

“If he wants a war, he’ll get a war,” vows Lemieux. “I’m strong and I’ve very confident in my abilities. I know he’s a very strong fighter, but we have a plan going in against him. We’re not worried and we will do what we have to do to be at our best on fight night.

“David Benavídez will have his hands full on Saturday night.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox