I am a bit of a sucker, let me get that out of the way right now. I think it's helpful for me to admit that, both to myself, and to you, the reader. I can get swayed and seduced, by language, by emotion, by context, by bias.
F'rinstance, I do confess to digging it when a fighter talks a good game. When he really delivers the “Grrrr.” When he promises to destruct and destroy…I dig it. It makes me, at the least, stand at attention. It also signifies to me that the guy gets it, that he understands the stakes of the game, and the mindset which will result in the most bang for the buck for the fan, and most bucks, period, for him.
Because let's dispense with the false benevolence here, KOs matter, KOs are craved, people want knockouts, emeffer….That last one is me channeling Emanuel Steward, lol.
So it moves me when a David Lemieux, who headlines Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night, and on HBO if you can't make it to the arena*—and I'm not sure why not, if you live anywhere close, being that tix start at $15 bucks, and 2-for-1 offers are floating about–promises to kick tail. Gabriel Rosado (21-8 with 13 KOs) will be there to make Lemieux a liar, in a middleweight clash which my man Harold Lederman has promised will deliver a kayo climax.
So, what was it that Lemieux, a 26-year-old Canadian hitter with a 31-2 (30 KOs) mark, told me which so floats my boat?
“I'm not going to be a human being in Brooklyn, I'm going to be machine, I'm going to be there to destroy,” Lemieux told me. “I'm ready for war against Rosado.
OK, listen, we all know of cases where guys talked a helluva game, and then when it came time to put up, you'd wished they shut up. We shall see Saturday if the talk will be walked…but Lemieux has me convinced that he has mentally stepped up his game and that we just might see the best version of him in Brooklyn. “This is one of the best camps I've had to date. Ever since the Fernando Guerrero fight (his last outing, in May, KO3 win), I've been very strict with training.” He sparred 12 rounds a bunch of times, he noted, and told me, “It's the strongest I've ever felt. I can feel it in my punches, they are a lot more devastating.”
Be still, my savage heart, lol…
But…don't we always hear how punchers are BORN, not MADE?
“I was born a gifted puncher,” he explained, “but it can always be improved.”
One improvement he is relying upon is a new focus on nutrition. “I added a nutritionist to my team,” he told me. He now eats pre-made meals, and is “now making weight without struggling.” He figures that his better level of fitness stemming from eating better has improved his punching power anywhere from two to five percent. Before, he'd have to carve off maybe 15-16 pounds fight week; this week, he will drop maybe ten pounds. “Now, I will be just cutting water, not fat,” he said.
I made a joke about Thanksgiving, and how Lemieux must be hoping Rosado didn't give a wide berth to the stuffing and mashed potatoes and such. The crack was lost on Mr. Gameface Lemeiux…
“I don't mind Rosado eating what he wants as long as he makes 160,” the Canadian told me. It is clear he isn't noting the losses on Rosado's ledger and assuming another L will be tacked on…”He's fan friendly, he comes to fight, he's got a good chin, the fight is gonna be exciting,” he said.
You hear a lot of guys saying that skills pay the bills, and many of them are saying it after fighting a risk averse bout in which they won, but…how to put this…they didn't prevent anyone from hitting the lavatory or the fridge during a round. BO-RIIIING. Lemieux seems to understand that sure, winning is great, you can think “win today, look great tomorrow,” but if you win AND look great, you manufacture much more buzz, and put yourself in the mix for opportunities that you would not have been in contention for just yesterday. “I don't just want to win, I want to look great,” he told me. “It's on HBO, HBO is the biggest (platform) out there. I want to look fascinating! It's important for me to make sure I look great! I don't just want to win, I want to win with style.”
Amen, brother Lemieux. Love your talk…now all that remains to be seen is the caliber of the walk.
*=As a person who roots for boxing as a whole to thrive, I admit to WANTING a load of people to show up for the fights at Barclays. Why? Because it benefits the sport as a whole, and also me. Why? Because the better the attendance, the more the likelihood that more cards will be brough to Brooklyn, and I live right near Barclays, and if boxing thrives at that arena, it benefits me. Yep, it's a good thing to be able to walk home from a fight card.