Montreal middleweight David Lemieux, only 23, is on the comeback trail after a lost 2011.
The once can't-miss kid will return in a scheduled eight-rounder on promoter Yvon Michel's June 8 undercard at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Lemieux is slated to face California-based Jaudiel Zepeda (12-5-1, nine KOs), a native of Mexico who went the eight-round distance with credible Canadian super middleweight Renan St-Juste in his last bout.
"With this fight I restart my career," Lemieux said at a news conference to announce the card Wednesday.
By the end of 2010, there was no hotter prospect in boxing than Lemieux. He had received a lot of exposure on ESPN2, and with his power and good looks, he had started to draw good crowds in his hometown. HBO was interested in putting him on, and he was clearly a rising star.
Then came the nightmare of 2011. First there was a shocking seventh-round knockout loss to Marco Antonio Rubio in April on "Friday Night Fights." Lemieux (25-2, 24 KOs) was destroying Rubio for most of the fight before he stunningly was battered in the last round, causing his former trainer, Russ Anber, to throw in the towel.
Lemieux took some time off and then came back in December with trainer Marc Ramsay in his corner to face faded former junior middleweight titlist Joachim Alcine in an all-Montreal showdown.
Many expected Lemieux to easily beat Alcine, whose previous two fights resulted in a draw against a journeyman opponent and a first-round knockout loss to Alfredo Angulo. Instead, Alcine pulled a shocker by winning a 12-round majority decision.
Lemieux left the fight with a right hand injury, a two-fight losing streak and a shedded can't-miss label.
Now, with that lost 2011 behind him, Lemieux will try to get back on track against Zepeda.
"I know I have disappointed many of my supporters, but I recently learned a lot and have matured. I cannot wait to reconnect with the action," Lemieux said. "Without looking too far ahead, of course, I dream of fighting rematches against Rubio and Alcine in the near future."
Lemieux, who got power happy in his losses and forgot to use his other abilities, said he's learned to use his power as part of an overall arsenal.
"I am a fighter and I will always fight that way, but I understand now power punching is a tool, not a strategy," he said.
Lemieux won't have the pressure of being in the main event. That spot is reserved for light heavyweight prospect Eleider Alvarez (8-0, five KOs), who will face Shawn Hawk (23-1, 19 KOs).
Michel said he believes Lemieux, who has sparred with former light heavyweight champ Jean Pascal, can become a champion. He said Lemieux has worked hard on his stamina with Ramsay and has been more dedicated to training.
"Physically, he can now match the best in the gym, so he will never run out of gas anymore," Michel said. "He is learning the necessary subtlety of the game to better use his tools. He is systematic, disciplined and passionate to learn. His trainer said he is never late, never complains about the workload and is giving his best effort all the time.
"I believe, taking into consideration he is only 23, he will develop and can be world champion. Fighters with much less talent than him have been crowned. But more than that, he will develop as a true international star, someone who will sell tickets, (do television) ratings, be a must-see fighter whenever he performs. He will win and he will lose some fights, but he always is going to be a fighter people will love to follow."