By Dave Spencer / Fightnews Canada at ringside
It was lights out for both Walid Smichet and the Montreal Casino as twenty-one year-old David Lemieux closed the show with a TKO victory at the :57 second mark of the second round Saturday night as boxing returned to the venue for the final time. The 700-seat facility which was home to forty-five shows will go dark for the next four years as extensive renovations take place to the facility. Lemieux ended things with bang though as he took the usually rugged Smichet and battered him from the opening bell to a quick ending, staggering the Tunisian born fighter several times along the way. Lemieux who scores his 21st knockout in his 22nd fight retains his Canadian super-middleweight title with the victory and moves onwards and upwards, and is set to headline on June 11th at 10,000 seat Uniprix Stadium against an opponent to be named on Tuesday by promoter Yvon Michel.
It was fitting that Lemieux closed the doors on the Casino, as like many headliners who appeared before him, he seems to have outgrown the small but vibrant room.
Smichet who fell short in a close majority decision loss to then undefeated John Duddy in 2008 has now lost five of his last eight and falls to 20-7-2 with the loss.
Lemieux was able rock his opponent several times in the opening round, the first time coming a minute in after following a pair of right hands with a short left to the temple that Smichet never saw coming. A right hand to the body that almost jack-knifed Smichet in two and a left uppercut later in the round also proved to do serious damage.
The second round began much the same way the first round ended, with Smichet eating a ton of leather. The former Canadian middleweight champion was a bit more aggressive to start the round, perhaps knowing the end was near, but that only allowed Lemieux more openings than he already had. A final left hand followed up by two right hooks put Smichet down to the canvas, staggering to his feet at six and stumbling sideways to his corner. Referee Gerry Bolen gave Smichet every chance to continue but it was clear that this one was over. “If he had of kept going, he would have been hurt badly,” said the referee. “He couldn’t answer me or walk towards me, better the fight be stopped and think of his career.”
Lemieux stated that he was surprised that Smichet was willing to trade punches with him from the beginning. “My main objective was not tot get hit, I got hit by one shot I wasn’t expecting, but that was it. He surprised me though, anytime I was able two or three punches, he was always able to come back. He wasn’t doing it coming in, but anytime I’d unload and think I had him, he’d come up with something.”
Lemieux who has seen two-thirds of his twenty-one fights at the Montreal Casino stated he’ll be sad to see the facility close. “It’s close to my house and enjoy coming here,” said the powerful fighter, “The fans are great and always supported me, I’ve grown as a fighter since starting here.”
Trainer Russ Anber agrees, stating that the last seven months that Lemieux who will campaign at middleweight on the world stage has grown exponentially. “He has been growing at an incredible rate,” said Anber, “I believe he’s outgrown the Casino, every time out he brings something new to the table.”
It was an emotional night according to promoter Yvon Michel who put on 45 cards and a staggering 260 fights. “People were skeptical at the beginning,” said Michel, “They thought that facility and doing monthly shows here would not be viable. But we had a regular season, doing monthly fights that were able to move our boxers through the rankings and have them gain valuable experience.
“I believe it helped build boxing in Quebec. It was a transitional place where we saw boxers move on. Otis Grant came within one fight of a world championship, and we saw both Joachim Alcine and Jean Pascal both go on to world championships. Sebastien Demers, Hermann Ngoudjo and Olivier Lontchi also went on to world title fights. We’re going to miss it.”
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Kevin Bizier needed rounds and got them as he defeated Wilfredo Negron Bizier 80-70 on all three scorecards. Bizier who had scored three consecutive first round knockouts coming in was put on notice from the opening bell as the initial handshake turned into an ill-fated left hook. Negron missed on the sucker-punch attempt but did serve up a steady diet of low blows on the night, being deducted points in both the 4th and 8th rounds. The Puerto Rican fighter who has gone the distance with both world title challenger Cosme Rivera and Henry Brusseles was also warned a half dozen times by referee Marlon Wright. Bizier who went eight for the first time was able to land his left to the body that has crippled lesser opponents in the past and when Negron was still standing, was able to land the rest of his repertoire, sustaining a body attack for the duration and showing a dexterity in throwing some good uppercuts and right hooks. Negron was set on survival though and this one ended up going the distance with Bizier dominating throughout.
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Canadian welterweight champion Victor Lupo won an eight round 80-72, 80-71, 78-74 unanimous decision over Antonio Soriano setting the stage for a title defense with undefeated Montreal boxer Kevin Bizier in June. This one was all Lupo who came out of the gates with an aggressive body attack in the first two rounds and when Soriano tried turning the tables in the third with his own work to the body, Lupo was able to land a massive left counter off the ropes, backing up the Mexican and following up with a barrage for the duration of the round. Lupo loaded up with the right hand and went after Soriano from the bell in the fifth, leaving the fighter a bloody mess as the fight progressed into the final rounds. Lupo did his best to close the show in the eighth, deliberately going to the body before viciously coming back upstairs. Lupo’s aggressiveness did almost hurt him in the final round as Soriano did momentarily land a left hand counter that did stun Lupo and had him backing off for a few seconds before regrouping and reloading for the final minute.
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In other undercard action Samuel Vargas upped his record to 3-0 with a 59-55 (x3) victory over Jose Leonardo Corona while debuting super-middleweight Francis Lafreniere settled for a draw with Patrick Tessier.