(As seen on Queensberry Rules)
It is far too common for those living in the great white north (including myself) to observe a fighter who performs almost exclusively at home in Canada and builds a community of rowdy fans within the Bell Centre waiting for their popularity to peak. They wait for an opportunity to fight for a title belt, or until they become brave enough to venture into enemy territory without their horde of loyal followers.
This same horde will often boast of the superior skills that their fighter possesses compared to the global competition within the weight class, but there are many times where they experience complete disappointment. One recent example that comes to mind is Lucian Bute. As is the case with most of the more popular fighters performing out of Canada these days, Bute represents the archetype of the nation’s adopted son. Does he fight out of Canada? Yes. Is he Canadian? Sort of, but not really. Though Bute met his figurative demise against Carl Froch in Nottingham, Canada has also had other talents that have performed better, for example: Jean Pascal and Adonis Stevenson. It’s great to have a fighter to cheer for in your home town/province/state, but these fighters would also fall into the category of “adopted children of the nation.” A hometown hero isn’t a necessity when cheering for a fighter, but a certain amount of nationalism never hurt the fan experience. Pascal and Stevenson were both born and raised in Haiti. These fighters have experienced a certain degree success and have developed sizeable fan bases (especially Bute), but none have been graced with the success of, for example, UFC’s Georges St. Pierre. There are obviously some market segment differences between the two sports, but my point on Canadian superstardom remains.
David Lemieux has most of the building blocks to become a star in Canada; he’s a young, attractive, likeable guy who speaks both French and English, and has a crowd-pleasing style. Previously on Queensberry Rules, Tim Starks has mentioned that if a fighter is considered attractive or a “pretty boy,” this image can draw a negative perception from certain audiences, but Lemieux’s 94 percent knockout ratio may act as an equalizer in the macho spectrum. This Saturday, he is scheduled to fight Gabriel Rosado. Rosado is well known in the boxing community as a consistently solid opponent who acts as a good litmus test for anybody looking to penetrate the rankings of whatever division he may be competing in. Unfortunately, he hasn’t done much lately to pass a threshold which will relieve him of his “solid gatekeeper” status. Rosado may be the toughest opponent of Lemieux’s career and is surely his toughest opponent since his loss to Marco Antonio Rubio in 2011. A win against Rosado would be great to have on his resume if he wants to continue securing television dates with premium networks.
Both fighters have had an opportunity to showcase their skills to a broader audience by competing on either Showtime or HBO within the past years, but unless they can make key adjustments, their history may not warrant continued exposure. Rosado has lost three of his last four bouts (with one no contest) and his most significant win is most likely Jesus Soto Karass, or Bryan Vera if you want to count bouts outside of the squared circle. Similarly, Lemieux has lost twice, with a win over Fernando Guerrero as his greatest accomplishment. Many fans see this fight as a continuation of less-than-stellar matchups on premium network television, but I believe there’s a potential for a fun, competitive match-up. So without further ado, let’s switch gears to a more tactical discussion.
For a Rosado Win
Regardless of whether or not he captured a victory, Rosado has had success in some of his recent bouts when he works off of his jab. He doesn’t have the strongest jab in the game, but when he uses it, it’s consistent and sets up combinations that can help him rack up enough points to win rounds. When he fought against Peter Quillin, he used his jab in the later rounds to set up significant hooks and uppercuts to the head. Quick jabs can be effective against a guy like Lemieux who usually moves forward with his gloves palm to palm rather than pinky to pinky.
A straight right hand is another punch that can be effective against Lemieux’s style. If Rosado’s camp has taken a rudimentary approach, they would study Rubio’s technical knockout victory over Lemieux, and more particularly the straight right over the top which buzzed Lemieux leading into the TKO. In this bout, Lemieux tended to be lazy when retracting his jab to a defensive position and Rubio capitalized. Thankfully for Lemieux and his camp, this is something that he’s worked on. In his fights with Guerrero and Jose Miguel Torres, his left glove was working overtime in its defensive position, so Rosado may have to be a bit more creative and step to the left so his counter rights can land straight down the pipe rather than over the top.
Rosado may also be able to take advantage of one of Lemieux’s unorthodox habits in order to win. In most of his fights, both victory and defeat alike, Lemieux has exhibited an offensive blitz where he throws vicious hooks as he steps with the corresponding foot. He will throw a massive left hook, often not looking at his opponent, and take a massive left foot forward, followed by a right hook that follows the same pattern. Generally, it’s easy to instruct a fighter to capitalize on a vicious fighter’s mistakes, but conducting the action is always harder than providing the instruction. Rosado experienced one of the most dangerous fighters in the sport when he fought Gennady Golovkin for his first fight at middleweight, so if there was any fighter with enough cojones to confront Lemieux head-on, it would be Rosado. As Lemieux lunges forward, he tends to square up and one of Rosado’s left uppercuts would not go astray, along with some body work to take some steam out of Lemieux.
For a Lemieux Win
In order for Lemieux to be effective in this fight, or any fight thus far, he’s going to need to fight on the front foot. Generally he always possesses the confidence to walk forward and facing Rosado will not cause a disruption to this routine. One technique that Lemieux can utilize in order to secure a victory over Rosado is to use his hooks to position his man. Rosado’s resume has given him enough ring savvy to know never to back up against an opponent who is pressuring you. Lemieux will need to throw left hooks as Rosado is raising his traditional guard and pivoting to his left, and vice versa for the opposite side. In Rosado’s bout with Golovkin, he fought off of the back foot for the major portion of the fight and exhausted a lot of energy moving around the ring. Stepping forward and shutting down Rosado’s escape routes should be a key tactic if Lemieux intends to create damaging combinations and capture a victory from an experienced opponent.
It is also essential for Lemieux to be able to control the distance between him and his Rosado. He operates most efficiently when he is in-fighting, or in close range. When Lemieux finds himself at mid-range, he often doubles the jab and risks a right hand behind it every now and then to transition to the inside. Closing the gap is possibly one of Lemieux’s best assets and he has demonstrated this throughout his career; most recently when he sent Guerrero to the canvas multiple times during their bout. After a counter is landed on his end, or a defensive retreat is initiated by his opponent, swift footwork can get him in place to throw hard shots on a turtled opponent who has their back to the ropes. Rosado is effective at close range but if Lemieux creates an inside fight, he should control it against Rosado.
Conclusion and Prediction
Perhaps a win against Rosado will not raise Lemieux to “Canadian Superstar” status and perhaps defeating Lemieux will not rid Rosado of his “tough contender” status, but a win for either man is a significant one for their respective careers. If a win does not prompt an elevation in rank of the victorious fighter, it should at least provide them with a future premium television date.
I believe that Lemieux’s recent defensive developments will assist him tremendously in this bout. Lemieux was 22 when he faced defeat against Rubio three years ago and has evidently adjusted his game so that his left glove has the job of protecting his consciousness rather than his corner man throwing in a towel. I see Lemieux being on top of his game on Saturday, but Rosado will remain competitive until the end of the bout.
Lemieux TKO 8 over Rosado