By Paul Mason
In all of the fever pitch surrounding the eagerly anticipated Middleweight showdown between Gennady Golovkin and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 15 in Las Vegas, the undercard for the occasion has gone by largely unnoticed.
There are, however, some solid matches that have been made ahead of the showpiece main event. HBO will televise in the USA, with BT Sport dipping their toes in the pay per view market for the first time in the UK.
In what has guaranteed war written all over it, Canadian David Lemieux (39-4, KO33)meets the likeable and affable Irishman Gary “Spike” O’Sullivan (28-2, KO20) at Middleweight.
A former IBF Middleweight Champion when he outpointed Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in June 2015, Lemieux quickly shipped this belt in challenging Kazakh monster Golovkin in October of the same year for the WBA and Interim WBC belts, stopped in eight one-sided rounds. Lemieux bounced back with four straight wins to earn himself a crack at the WBO Title, where Hatfield’s unbeaten Billy Joe Saunders would stand in his way. Saunders travelled to the Canadian’s backyard in Laval and handed Lemieux a drubbing in the process. Lemieux was outclassed by Saunders’ accurate and fast punch output.
Cork native O’Sullivan has been gradually making a name for himself in America with some fan-friendly wins. His two reverses have come against Billy Joe Saunders in 2013 (Unanimous) and Chris Eubank Junior (RTD7) in December 2015. He has racked up six straight victories since the Eubank defeat, five by knockout, and was talked about as a backup plan if the main event was to fall through earlier in the year. This is a genuine 50/50 fight for me, and much depends on what Lemieux has left after a fair few wars in the past.
Fast-rising Super Welterweight Jaime Munguia (30-0, KO25) makes another HBO appearance, and a second defence of the WBO Title he ripped away from Sadam Ali earlier this year on the big Vegas bill. The sacrificial lamb being offered to the 21-year-old on the 15th September is a man who was due to face Kell Brook last month before Brook had to withdraw with an injury. Ontario, Canada’s Brandon Cook (20-1, KO13) is the man tasked with trying to derail the Mexican hype train. Munguia followed the impressive Ali win with a first defence against Liverpool’s former holder of the Title in Liam Smith. After early Smith pockets of success, Munguia dominated the fight, taking a unanimous points win to further enhance his reputation.
Cook brings a solid, but unspectacular record to the table in Sin City. His one career loss came in September last year when stopped in Kazakhstan by the fellow unbeaten Kanat Islam in nine rounds. Islam was widely ahead on the cards at the time of the stoppage. Cook has bounced back with two knockout wins since, but surely the pick is for Munguia to retain by stoppage.
When compiling a then 46-0 record, Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez (46-2, KO38) was hot property and on his way to becoming a pound for pound king. Gonzales is a former Strawweight, Light Flyweight, Flyweight and Super Flyweight World Champion. However, two defeats to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and the loss of his WBC Super Flyweight Title have completely changed his landscape. The first defeat was a nip and tuck points reverse, but in the rematch in September last year, he was ruthlessly knocked out cold by the Thai in the fourth round. He attempts to ascend the mountain again on the card when he meets Moises Fuentes (25-5-1, KO14) in a gentle introduction back to the squared circle. Former WBO Strawweight World Champion Fuentes has lost three times in his last four outings, two of those via knockout, including a first-round knockout loss in his last fight against WBC Flyweight Champion, Daigo Higa. This then should be a safe return for “Chocolatito” and should put him back in the mix for Titles in 2019.
All in all, in a day an age of pay per view events that are like a weekly occurrence, this card gives real value for money.