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Friday, April 1, 2011
Lemieux eyes breakout victory

By Dan Rafael

Middleweight David Lemieux, one of the most exciting rising prospects in boxing, is one win away from a title shot.

In order to position himself for an eventual crack at the winner of the June 4 bout between titlist Sebastian Zbik and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who fight on June 4), Lemieux (25-0, 24 KOs) needs to defeat experienced former title challenger Marco Antonio Rubio (49-5-1, 42 KOs) of Mexico in their title eliminator April 8 in the main event of "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2).

Lemieux, who is from Montreal and a potential star in the making, will have the home-turf advantage at the Bell Centre.

"Rubio is the best opponent I have fought to date," said the 22-year-old Lemieux, who has knocked out his past four opponents inside of two rounds. "It is going to be interesting to see what Rubio brings to the table. He is a big puncher and has a lot more experience than I do. I am ready to give it my all and I am preparing for war.

"I honestly feel that Rubio is tougher than either of the fighters I would face for the title if I win. I am not looking past Rubio and [am] taking it one step at a time, but I am really looking forward to making a statement with this fight and doing whatever I have to do to get a shot at the middleweight title."

Rubio has been a good contender for several years. He has won six fights in a row since then-middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik stopped him in the ninth round of a February 2009 title bout.

Promoter Yvon Michel has been building Lemieux for this kind of significant fight since he turned pro in 2007 after winning three Canadian national amateur titles.

"He is a fantastic, very exciting fighter and I think this very competitive fight against Rubio will catapult him to another stage of his career," Michel said.

If Lemieux reaches the top by winning a title, which many expect of him, it will be quite a feat for a young man who once got in regular trouble in school and had numerous street fights. When he was 9, a neighbor caught Lemieux smoking a cigar and offered to take him to a boxing gym to teach him discipline.

"Boxing saved my life," Lemieux said. "Violence and drugs were all around me when I was growing up. If I hadn't discovered boxing, I don't know what I would be doing. I never would have been good at a routine desk job. I fell in love with the boxing gym, and I never wanted to leave."