Undercard Action Puts a Half Dozen Careers on the Line

Photos: Will Hart

By Nat Gottlieb

As if the Canelo-Khan main event this Saturday night on HBO PPV wasn't consequential enough, the undercard features three fights which hold the potential to alter the careers of all six boxers. Expect high drama and a lot of intense action.

David Lemieux vs Glen Tapia

Knockout artist David Lemieux (34-3, 31 KOs) a former world champion, will be trying to rebound from an 8th round stoppage at the hands of undefeated Gennady Golovkin. His opponent for this middleweight matchup, Glen Tapia (23-2, 15 KOs), is also looking to bounce back from a TKO loss.

“I am coming back strong,” Lemieux says about his loss to Golovkin, who methodically tore him apart. “I’m ready to be on top of the middleweight division, where I belong.”

But can he come back? You never know how a fighter responds to such a devastating loss as he did to Golovkin, who has a way of taking an opponent’s heart with him out of the ring. The Canadian is a somewhat limited fighter, who relies on his power and can be outboxed. Tapia can be a superb boxer, although his defense is lacking at times and his chin has been found wanting in two knockout losses.

A New Jersey native, Tapia was a highly-decorated amateur with a 130-13 record, and is one of the more exciting boxers in the game. This will also be his first bout as a middleweight, which might prove to be a good thing for him. Tapia has struggled the last few years to make the 154 pound junior middleweight limit, and has said the effort to make weight left him drained in the ring. “This is a make or break moment,” Tapia says. “I can’t wait to show everyone what I’m made of. People will see a new and improved Glen Tapia.”

Mauricio Herrera vs Frankie Gomez

Another potential do-or-die fight pits unbeaten and untested Golden Boy prodigy, Frankie Gomez (20-0, 13 KOs) against hard-luck boxer Mauricio Herrera (22-5, 7 KOs), who has fought some of the best in the junior welterweight division and lost to each of them in controversial and close decisions.

The long-touted Gomez comes into this fight with his doubters. He has been moved up the ladder carefully in his first 20 fights. This will be the first step up in competition for the 24-year-old boxer from East L.A. “This is the kind of fight I have been training for my entire career,” Gomez says. “Herrera is a recognized and ranked fighter, and he has a lot of experience. It’s my chance to prove myself and show everyone who has doubted me what I can do in the ring.”

The 35-year-old Herrera is a fighter who takes on all comers, including undefeated, two-division world champion Danny Garcia in a junior welterweight bout that ended in a majority decision loss. Some felt he had beaten Garcia, and the scorecards reflected how close it was, 111-112 twice, and 114-114. Ironically, that defeat was probably the best showing of Herrera’s career, although his résumé includes handing Ruslan Provodnikov his first loss in 2011. He has also dropped relatively close decisions to Mike Anchondo and to then unbeaten Mike Alvardo and Karim Mayfield.

In order to stay in the division picture, both Gomez and Herrera need not only to a victory, but a clear-cut one that leaves no doubt.

Patrick Teixeira vs Curtis Stevens

In a middleweight fight also not lacking for intrigue, the 25-year-old unbeaten Brazilian, Patrick Teixeira (26-0, 22 KOs), will be taking on hard-hitting veteran Curtis Stevens (27-5, 20 KOs), whose five losses include two against top-tier super middleweights, Andre Dirrell and Jesse Brinkley. Showing true grit, the undersized Stevens (5'7") was also able to go eight rounds with Golovkin before retiring on his stool.

This will be a proving-ground fight for Teixeira, who has explosive knockout power, but has only fought the usual suspects. This step up in competition against Stevens will tell if the Brazilian in the real deal.

For Stevens, this will be his first fight with trainer and former world champion, John David Jackson, who has worked with such top boxers as Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley. At 31, it’s not a given that Stevens will be able to show some new wrinkles after working with his new trainer. Stevens will be looking to use his ring experience and savvy to outclass and defeat the young Brazilian.