Middleweight contenders David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens have a lot in common.
They are both big punchers with fan-friendly styles. They both got knocked out by Gennady Golovkin, the No. 1 middleweight, in world-title fights. They both appeared on the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan undercard last May in Las Vegas and scored impressive knockout victories, Lemieux taking out Glen Tapia in the fourth round and Stevens blowing out Patrick Teixeira in the second round.
And since then they have both won one more fight apiece while also talking continuously about fighting each other because, well, they don't like each other very much.
They will finally face each other in a 12-round bout in the main event of "Boxing After Dark" on Saturday (HBO, 11 p.m. ET/PT) at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York.
With their attacks on each other on social media, and the way they have talked to each other and about each other in the lead-up to the fight, it sounds like they can't wait to get their hands on each other.
"The last time that my opponent spoke so much and I so disliked him, I believe it was Delray Raines. I broke three of his ribs and his nose. It didn't end up very well for him," Lemieux said. "I couldn't be more prepared for a fight. I have one objective in mind: I want to take his head off. I am so motivated to put on a great performance on Saturday night. Stevens put a lot of oil in the fire with his disrespectful comments and he will pay for it. I guarantee you that it will be a rough night."
"The last time that my opponent spoke so much and I so disliked him, I believe it was Delray Raines. I broke three of his ribs and his nose. It didn't end up very well for him."David Lemieux
Said Stevens: "No matter what he brings, it doesn't matter. I'm ready to adjust. I see myself winning this fight. Whether it be by knockout or by decision, it doesn't matter. I am really well prepared this time."
In the opening bout, former unified featherweight world titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa (25-1, 17 KOs), 35, a Cuban defector based in Miami, Florida, will box for the first time since December 2015. In his first fight since signing with Golden Boy Promotions, Gamboa will take on journeyman Rene Alvarado (24-7, 16 KOs), 27, of Nicaragua, who is 4-5 in his last nine fights, in a 10-round lightweight fight.
When Lemieux (36-3, 32 KOs), 28, of Montreal, and Stevens (29-5, 21 KOs), 32, of Brooklyn, New York, held a joint teleconference recently to talk with the boxing media about the fight it quickly degenerated into an angry tit-for-tat, back and forth between them.
"I can't wait, champ. I can't wait," Stevens said in a taunting manner to Lemieux, who responded, "You're going to get knocked out. Believe it."
Stevens then responded, "Tell the doctor to bring smelling salts. They're going to need to wake your ass up."
Lemieux: "Yeah, yeah, OK. You're going to get knocked out."
Stevens: "No problem. No problem."
Lemieux: "You ain't never fought a guy like me."
Stevens: "And you ain't never fight nobody like me. The difference is I fought a million yous. You never fought someone like me."
Lemieux: "I'm going to destroy you."
Stevens: "No problem. March 11, meet me in the middle of the ring, and that's it, OK? Just meet me in the middle of the ring."
Lemieux: "That's what I'm going to do."
Stevens: "That's all you've gotta do. Meet me in the middle of the ring. That's all you've got to do."
Lemieux: "You don't have to talk so much."
Stevens: "The fight is made. I don't got nothing to say."
"Tell the doctor to bring smelling salts. They're going to need to wake your ass up."Curtis Stevens
So the fight shapes up like a good, old-fashioned grudge match and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya, Lemieux's promoter, said it should mean an action-packed fight for the fans.
"I can tell it is personal for both to go in for the kill on fight night," De La Hoya said. "Lemieux is looking bigger than ever and Stevens has been working day in and day out with (trainer) John David Jackson. Get ready, fans -- this is looking to be a surefire fight-of-the-year candidate."
The back-and-forth between Lemieux and Stevens didn't stop.
Stevens threatened to knock Lemieux's teeth out.
"Your whole front furniture will be missing out of your mouth," he said.
Lemieux responded, "You're going to get knocked out, that's what's going to happen."
When asked what concerned him about Stevens, Lemieux gave a one-word answer: "Nothing."
Lemieux, a former world titleholder, lost his 160-pound belt to Golovkin by a one-sided eighth-round knockout in their October 2015 unification fight and has won both of his fights since. Stevens got a shot at Golovkin in November 2013 and got wiped out in the eighth round of a fight as one-sided as GGG's bout with Lemieux.
Both fighters have won two bouts in a row and would like to earn their way back to a world-title rematch with Golovkin, though his 2017 calendar appears full beginning with a showdown against Daniel Jacobs on March 18 (HBO PPV) at Madison Square Garden in New York.
"I'm extremely excited to get back on top," Lemieux said. "Curtis Stevens is a step to where I want to go. And I'm very excited and extremely ready."
Said Stevens: "I can't see into the future. I can't see March 12th. I can't see what's going to happen, you know, but we both are going to come in there to win at the end of the day. I know he's going to be in the best shape to put on a good fight and I'll be in the best shape of my life for the fight."
The loser of the fight will be in a tough spot and winner in a good one, which De La Hoya addressed.
"Obviously, the loser puts himself into a small corner," De La Hoya said. "The winner obviously goes and gets in line to fight (a bigger fight). They're the biggest guys in the sports today in the middleweight division, and the loser then has to fight an uphill battle."