LAS VEGAS -- As much as the main event stars, unified middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez, have made no secret of their distaste for each other going into their much-anticipated rematch, they have nothing on David Lemieux and Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan.
Former middleweight world titlist Lemieux and O'Sullivan, who will meet in a middleweight world title elimination fight on the Golovkin-Alvarez II undercard on Saturday (HBO PPV, 8 p.m. ET) at the T-Mobile Arena, have spent the entire buildup to the fight verbally bashing each other.
They've done it in interviews and on social media, and got in one more batch of taunts at Thursday's undercard news conference.
The expectation is that they will tear into each other aiming for the satisfaction of taking the other out, and also knowing that the winner will become one of the mandatory challengers for the main event winner. Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez told ESPN that the WBA formally sanctioned the fight as a final title eliminator on Thursday.
The Lemieux-O'Sullivan winner could also face Alvarez, even if Alvarez loses to GGG, as Gomez said Alvarez has asked Golden Boy to reserve a December date for him for another fight, which would likely take place either in Las Vegas or New York.
Of course, both the main event and Lemieux-O'Sullivan could be so rough that the fighters might not be available for another fight this year, but that is Golden Boy's plan at the moment.
But future fights aside, O'Sullivan and Lemieux ratcheted up the trash talk at Thursday's news conference, where even before they got on stage, they had a run-in backstage.
"I promise you some fireworks. I hope everyone enjoys the show. He has a big mouth. He likes to talk garbage on social media. He's not the best kind of guy. I'm going to knock him out and make a lot of people happy." David Lemieux
"Smell that? I smell fear," O'Sullivan said when he got to the podium. "We just passed each other. That greasy piece of s---. Saturday night, we're going to fight. The fight will be our careers. I'm coming for GGG or Canelo. I'm going to be coming for him Saturday night, that greasy piece of s---."
Lemieux generally kept his cool, responding to O'Sullivan, "The talk is done, now it's time to walk the walk. His chin is going to be very warmed up for the fight. He's gonna need it. He's not going to stay in front of me. I'm ready for 12 rounds. If he passes eight rounds, respect to him. He's just scared, that's why he talks too much. The fight's Saturday, and you're going to get knocked out."
Lemieux, who lost his world title by one-sided eighth-round knockout to GGG in a 2015 unification fight, is one of boxing's most brutal punchers, and he has been predicting that he will drill O'Sullivan since the fight was made.
"I'm going to teach him a lesson on Saturday night. I'm a very hard worker, I've been a hard worker my whole life. I fight like a Mexican. Watch out David, you're getting knocked out." Gary "Spike" O'Sullivan
"I'm excited for Saturday night. I promise you some fireworks," Lemieux said recently. "I hope everyone enjoys the show. He has a big mouth. He likes to talk garbage on social media. He's not the best kind of guy. I'm going to knock him out and make a lot of people happy."
Lemieux (39-4, 33 KOs), 29, of Montreal, is looking for his second win in a row since he was embarrassed in a one-sided decision loss on his home turf when he challenged world titlist Billy Joe Saunders in December.
O'Sullivan (28-2, 20 KOs), 34, of Ireland, had a chance to challenge Golovkin on May 5, when he was looking for a new opponent after Alvarez flunked two drug tests, was suspended and the fight canceled. O'Sullivan had pleaded for the fight, but when it was offered, he turned it down because he said the deal co-promoter Golden Boy had offered him for another plan was more attractive.
O'Sullivan won a low-level fight on May 4 and now has Lemieux with a chance to set himself up for a possible fight with the main event winner. Beating Lemieux would be by far the biggest win of his career.
"It took me eight years to get here," O'Sullivan said. "I'm more ready than I've ever been before. He's going to be cooked. He's very one-dimensional. He does the same thing over and over again. He says the same stuff over and over again. I'm going to teach him a lesson on Saturday night. I'm a very hard worker. I've been a hard worker my whole life. I fight like a Mexican. Watch out, David, you're getting knocked out."