Get ready for Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez versus... David Lemieux?
Such a matchup is strictly in the unconfirmed rumor phase, but early signs point to such a contingency plan in the event that Alvarez (48-1-1, 35KOs) fails to secure a superfight with unbeaten, unified middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin later this year. First up for the Mexican superstar is a 164.5-pound catchweight clash with countryman Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. which will take place May 6 in front of a sold-out crowd at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
If the formula of Lemieux serving as the final lead-in to an Alvarez PPV headliner seems familiar, it's because the exact same scenario took place on Cinco de Mayo weekend one year ago. Alvarez christened the T-Mobile Arena with the state of the art venue's first-ever boxing card, scoring a 6th round knockout of former 140 lb titlist Amir Khan in the lone defense of his middleweight crown.
On the undercard, Lemieux (37-3, 33KOs) had his way with Glen Tapia en route to a 4th round knockout. It was his first win following the end of his middleweight reign, which came in an 8th round stoppage loss to Golovkin in Oct. '15. He has won three straight including the aforementioned knockout versus Stevens and is eager for the quick turnaround.
"I'm thankful to have the opportunity of being part of this event during the Cinco de Mayo celebrations," Lemieux said in a statement released through the press office of Golden Boy Promotions. "I think I was able to send a clear message on March 11 with my performance against Stevens and I intend to do the same on May 6. I want to make sure that everyone understands that David Lemieux is making his way towards the top and that he intends to stay there."
Standing in his way is an opponent in Reyes (35-4, 26KOs) who figures to provide little more than a speed bump on Lemieux' desired road toward a second title reign - or a superfight with the biggest box-office attraction in North America.
Whispers of this matchup first began a year ago, although sanctioning body politics stood in the way. Alvarez - who held the WBC middleweight title at the time - was already on the hook to defend versus Golovkin, who served as his mandatory challenger in addition to owning two more alphabet belts. Once Alvarez decided to vacate over displeasure in what he considered a forced timeline, there made little business sense to still pursue a Lemieux clash at the time. Instead, he moved down in weight (one pound) to ignite a second title reign in the super welterweight division following a 9th round stoppage of Liam Smith last September.
Lemieux wound up taking a tune-up fight - scoring a 10-round win over Cristian Fabian Rios last October - while waiting out his future marching orders. It appears that his handlers are ready to steer him back toward the top, although he first has to get past a Mexican veteran who claims to come upset-minded.
"I know everyone is talking about the Lemieux knockout, but I'm ready to take him out," said Reyes, who is 3-3 in his last six starts, with losses to Chavez Jr., Elvin Ayala and Abie Han mixed in with wins over pedestrian opposition and a faded version of David Lopez. "With my Mexican fans supporting me on Cinco de Mayo weekend, I'm ready to turn Lemieux's lights out."
Two more bouts were confirmed for the PPV preliminary portion of the evening.
An unbeaten featherweight crossroads bout pits 2012 U.S. Olympian and rising contender Joseph Diaz Jr. versus Manuel Avila, whose prospect status has reached 5th-year-senior level. Nevertheless, both boxers were eager to put their undefeated records on the line, given the magnitude of the event.
"I'm excited to return for the first time in 2017 and put my title on the line against such a tough competitor," insists Diaz Jr. (23-0, 13KOs), who appeared on the undercard of Alvarez' title winning effort over Smith. "This fight will put me one step closer to a world title shot."
Diaz was last seen cruising to a 10-round decision over Horacia Garcia last December on HBO.
The 24-year old Avila (22-0, 8KOs) was once considered a blue-chip talent to watch but has leveled off in competition as he's never fully transitioned to contender status. A win here would undoubtedly cross that threshold.
"This is a golden opportunity to move myself into world title contention, and I'm not planning to let that chance slip away," notes Avila, who fights for the first time since a points win over Jose Ramirez last November. "I know all about JoJo's undefeated record, but he's never faced anyone like me, and at the end of the night, my hand will be raised in victory."
As previously announced, the fourth bout of the PPV telecast pits Lucas Matthysse (37-4, 34KOs) in a long-awaited ring return as he faces veteran trialhorse Emmanuel Taylor (20-4, 14KOs)
"With three of Golden Boy Promotions' most exciting contenders appearing on the pay-per-view, as well as the biggest star in the sport, Canelo Álvarez, the Cinco de Mayo card can be described in one word, 'stacked'," said Golden Boy Promotions Chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya. "I fully expect four action-packed fights that will have fans out of their seats for the entire evening."