Lemieux-De La Rosa: why was it really so difficult to keep the fight alive?


David Lemieux



So why exactly did the Lemieux-De La Rosa fight not happen?


The news broke Friday that the fight between David Lemieux and James De La Rosa, scheduled to take place at a 163-pound catchweight, was called off due to Lemieux coming in at 165.8— 2.8 pounds overweight. It would’ve been Lemieux’s first fight back since his October loss to Gennady Golovkin.


The fight was to take place at the Olympia Theatre in Montreal, Quebec, and though the fight between Lemieux and De La Rosa was called off, the rest of the card went on as scheduled with a new main event in its place.


Not long after the reports came through, a press release was issued stating that Lemieux’s manager, Camille Estephan, attempted to negotiate with De La Rosa’s camp, namely his manager Adrian Clark, to keep the fight alive. When it was clear that a deal could not be reached with De La Rosa, Camille attempted to seek an alternative opponent to no prevail.


“Despite offering De La Rosa an increase on his purse, De La Rosa has refused to fight due to the weight issue,” said Camille Estephan, President of Eye of the Tiger Management. “He really did not feel comfortable fighting at weight higher than originally agreed. We did make an offer to local undefeated fighter as an alternative opponent however; the fight was not approved by the commission.”


However, that was not the full story, apparently, or, at least, not the only story as Clark tweeted later on after the failed negations to make it clear that he did his part to keep the fight alive.


Clark tweeted:

“We tried to negotiate. They didnt [sic] not want to meet our demands. They just expected us to lay down and do whatever they wanted.” @TheAdrianClark


Clark continued his tweets saying that he had unsuccessfully attempted a second round of negations but felt that the Lemieux side was uninterested in reaching a deal.


Furthermore, Clark made it clear in the final tweet of a series of tweets regarding the issue that some of the statements coming from the Lemieux camp were false.


“There was NOT a 40% increase. I find it really hilarious that Camille is saying that but I get it, he has to save face for his guy. #boxing” @TheAdrianClark


It is difficult to get the truth in situations like these. With all the opposing stories and contradicting reports, who is to say what could’ve been done to salvage this fight? It’s a shame, too, because this fight was very interesting on so many levels. However, it would’ve become far less interesting with every pound Lemieux advantageously secured, especially considering the fact that De La Rosa had not competed since December of 2014.


Despite the fact that a renegotiated weight would’ve benefited only Lemieux from a competitive standpoint, the De La Rosa camp was willing to fight. But regardless of the different accounts we received, it is clear that Lemieux was not willing to take the traditional responsibility in all its vulnerability. This was a business decision regardless of how you look at it, which is fine.


De La Rosa wanted more money to take more risk, respectfully. Lemieux, on the other hand, operated under the pretense of a fighter with all the leverage. It wasn’t a huge card and pulling out was an option not afforded to fighters in similar situations on much bigger cards with major networks to contend with.


Lemieux never even attempted to lose the weight, assuring almost everyone involved that he knew he would be coming in over at the weigh-ins and/or was completely tapped in the most permanent of ways.


In Clark’s statement to TBV, he was able to provide some insights into not just the failed negotiations but, perhaps, a deeper look into Lemieux’s current fighting status based on the strategy and willingness displayed on the part of the Canadian fighter’s team to keep the fight alive.


“They expected me to fold because they were in a panic. They weren’t trying to negotiate, they wanted me to accept a poor offer and I wouldn’t budge. Lemieux didn’t’ try to make the weight nor did he try to go lose it after he stepped on heavy. They assumed I was going to fold,” Clark said in a statement via text message.


Clark once again reiterated the fact that 40% was never offered, contradicting several reports from the Lemieux side claiming just that, but he admitted that there was an offer of only 20% which was not an acceptable amount for De La Rosa considering the nature of the weight discrepancy.


If you look at the situation as a whole there are a number of things you can gather. Of course, Clark is probably spot on in his interpretation of the situation claiming that the Lemieux side hoped and figured Clark and De La Rosa would cave to whatever was offered. However, that might not be the full story and it might not be any part of the story that matters.


The most interesting aspect in all of this is Lemieux missing weight. It wasn’t like he was being strict on himself and adhering to the middleweight limit to keep his opportunities open. He had a buffer and still failed to make weight.


Also, Lemieux seemed eager to get back into the ring and De La Rosa was formidable enough to make this outing count. Lemieux talked like a man ready to seriously begin his comeback or, at least, like a man who had taken training camp serious.


“I’m just coming back from a big fight, but I’ve moved on,” Lemieux said at the final news conference this week. “I am ready to step into the ring to win.


“I’m glad to be back home with all the fans who have supported me throughout my career. People who see this fight will get their money’s worth. It’s going to be an exciting fight.”


Lemieux talked a big game, possibly all the while knowing that he’d fail to come in at the agreed upon weight limit.


Clark made it clear that Golden Boy Promotions had nothing to do with the failed negotiations and that the entirety of the situation fell directly on Eye of the Tiger.


Taking a look at this from the full spectrum, you can’t help but wonder where David Lemieux is headed. Of course, this could be a moment in his career that nobody remembers, or this could be the moment where, when it comes to Lemieux, nobody remembers. It would be easy to forget his contributions to the middleweight landscape other than going on a run that ended with Golovkin receiving his first perceived “tough outing” on his very first HBO PPV headliner.


Lemieux needs to fight. He needs to take whatever fights help him to sustain his allure. Right now, it would be in haste to refer to him as a diva or self-righteous, but that doesn’t make it false. He is trying to get as far away from the dominance in which he lost to Golovkin as possible. Yet, it is important to track the kind of commodity he appears to be and whether or not that lines up with his actual appeal with fans.


While Lemieux-De La Rosa was an interesting matchup, and perfect in many ways for each fighter, you’d have been hard-pressed to find anyone outside of Canadian fans that were all too thrilled about this past weekend’s matchup before it was canceled—truth be told, there were plenty of Canadian fans that were not concerned or completely unaware of Lemieux’s return.


Bottom line, if Golden Boy still has hope and Lemieux is still capable of finding his way back into a fight with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez then all parties invested need to strike. Lemieux does not maintain the kind of star power that will allow for a slow return and still find swift success. He needs to remind people why they should care.


If you’re going to fight as often as James Kirkland then every time you step into the ring you need to produce the kind of entertaining reliability and headline-snatching performances at the kind of consistent level that mirrors a fighter such as, well, James Kirkland.