"Styles Make Fights" is one of boxing's most-quoted axioms. A corollary of that saying should also be "and some styles are simply made for one another." Saturday's middleweight showdown between Canadian bomber David Lemieux and Philadelphia tough guy Gabriel Rosado should provide plenty of fistic fireworks befitting the bout's Brooklyn backdrop.
There are, however, other factors that make this bout fascinating. First, Lemieux has crumbled physically and psychologically against fighters who can survive his titanic opening wave and Rosado is a fighter who has shown considerable fortitude. Second, Rosado appeared a spent force in losing his last conventional boxing match against the stylish Jermell Charlo but in August he looked impressive in beating fellow brawler Brian Vera in a fight conducted under the BKB umbrella. With Lemieux potentially bringing a come-forward style into the match, he may give Rosado his best chance at victory. Therefore, this fight isn't the slam-dunk for the Canadian that it appears to be.
Statistical factors that may affect the outcome include:
The Comeback Trail: After scoring 20 consecutive knockouts to begin his career and suffering back-to-back stumbles against Marco Antonio Rubio (KO by 7) and Joachim Alcine (L 12, majority), Lemieux has gone 7-0 (6 KO) to work his way back into fringe contender status.
The two losses followed a familiar pattern: Lemieux starting strongly, then fading late. Rubio allowed Lemieux to bomb away in the first two rounds and thus fell behind 37-14 overall and 31-6 power. Starting in round three Rubio's sharp counterpunching emerged and the effects reached critical mass in the sixth when he hurt Lemieux badly and out-landed him for the first time in the fight (21-11 overall, 13-9 power), then, despite tying Lemieux 12-12 overall and 6-6 power, put him away in the seventh.
Reacting to his shocking loss to Rubio, Lemieux tried to be more defensively responsible against 35-year-old former 154-pound titlist Joachim Alcine. His intense focus on one part of his game compromised the other parts that made him so effective -- volume and power. As a result Alcine was able to out-hustle Lemieux (47.5 per round to 46.1) and out-land him (160-112 overall, 39-22 jabs and 121-90 power). Alcine was more accurate as well (28%-20% overall, 14%-8% jabs, 40%-34% power) and the verdict was a majority decision that probably should have been unanimous for the veteran.
In recent fights, Lemieux has done a better job of incorporating better defense while retaining his destructive offense. In June 2013 Lemieux destroyed Robert Swierzbinski in
141 seconds by landing 61% of his power punches while fielding just six punches overall while in November 2013 against Jose Miguel Torres (the older brother of onetime WBO junior welterweight titlist Ricardo Torres) he scored seven knockdowns while throwing more jabs (205) than power punches (189). Lemieux wasn't accurate against Torres (21% overall, 37% power) but he more than got the job done.
In his most recent outing against Fernando Guerrero, Lemieux had mixed results when he tried to box with Guerrero but prospered when he switched to slugging mode. After edging Guerrero 13-7 in round one, a round that included a knockdown, Lemieux out-landed his rival 41-15 overall and 36-14 power in scoring three more knockdowns and cutting Guerrero. Although he looked impressive, there was one potential warning sign: Lemieux landed 48% of his power shots but tasted 40% of Guerrero's hooks, crosses and uppercuts.
When The Style is Right, So is Rosado: "The King" hasn't won a conventional-style boxing match since September 2012 when he stopped aged Charles Whittaker in round 10. Since then he lost to Gennady Golovkin (KO by 7), had a L 10 changed to a no-decision 10 after J'Leon Love flunked a post-fight drug test and suffered back-to-back defeats to Peter Quillin (KO by 10) and Jermell Charlo (L 10).
The common denominator in all three setbacks is his opponents found ways to limit Rosado's high-volume attack. When Rosado's engine is running high, he's effective. He averaged 92.3 punches per round in beating Jesus Soto-Karass (KO 5), 75.9 in out-point Keenan Collins (W 10) and 98.4 in stopping Ayi Bruce (KO 5). Golovkin dished out an unholy beating by averaging 70.3 punches per round and out-landing him 208-76 overall and 112-52 power while slowing Rosado's pace to 49.3 while Quillin (37.9 per round) held Rosado to 32.2 punches per round but only edged him 88-80 overall while trailing 62-59 in power connects. A nasty cut left eyelid stopped Rosado that day and that injury came back to haunt him in his most recent conventional boxing outing in January against Jermell Charlo, whose vaunted jab (10.1 connects per round, 101-15 connect edge) opened up the wound and led to huge connect gaps (239-94 overall, 138-79 power) and percentage bulges (50%-18% overall, 39%-9% jabs, 62%-21% power) as well as a lopsided points win. Charlo, Love, Quillin & GGG landed 49% of their power shots vs. Rosado- 11% higher than the wgt. class avg.
On August 16, however, Rosado met fellow brawler Brian Vera in a BKB-sanctioned contest, which was held inside a circular pit instead of a ring but was otherwise conducted under the usual rules. With Vera willingly trading with him, Rosado thrived. Both men suffered knockdowns in the third but from that point forward Rosado dominated. In rounds four-six he led 62-38 overall and 47-23 power, mostly from right hands that clocked Vera at will. A flush one-two dropped Vera in the sixth and while the Texan managed to rise he did so too shakily for Kenny Bayless' liking and the fight was stopped. The moral: If Rosado is presented the right style, he can still bring it. And unluckily for Lemieux, his best style is that style.
Prediction: This may be a much tougher test for Lemieux than one may think. The smart tactic for Lemieux is to box Rosado but when he's in boxing mode he tends to slow down his volume, put less power on his punches and, with his less-than-stellar defense, take more punches than he should. But if he shifts into overdrive, that gives Rosado the best chance to score the upset because Rosado thrives against those who choose to fight him, plus Lemieux has struggled with his stamina in longer fights.
That said, the one variable that may sink Rosado is his increasingly vulnerable facial tissues, particularly the area over his left eyelid. That wound has opened in each of his last two conventional boxing matches against Quillin and Charlo and if Lemieux gets the jab going it could be three-for-three. Lemieux also owns, by far, the heavier fists so that could serve as a safety net should the Canadian choose to go right at Rosado.
Based on Lemieux's fresher ring age and Rosado's problems with defense and cuts, the pick is Lemieux by TKO.