Deal set for Lemieux-Rubio
A long, hard negotiation ended moments before Friday's purse bid in Mexico City, paving the way for middleweight David Lemieux, one of boxing's fastest-rising stars, to face Marco Antonio Rubio in a title elimination bout.
They will meet April 8 in Montreal, where the 22-year-old Lemieux is becoming a major attraction. The fight will headline an edition of "Friday Night Fights" on ESPN2, promoter Yvon Michel said.
Don Majeski, the agent representing Michel at the WBC purse bid, finalized a deal with Rubio promoter Oswaldo Kuchle minutes before the sealed bids were to be opened.
"David Lemieux has defeated each and every one of the opponents put in front of him since the start of his career in thrilling fashion," Michel said. "In Rubio, he will face veteran warrior, himself a KO specialist who is at his physical peak at 30 years of age. I have no doubt that our young protégé will shine brighter than ever and show the entire world what all the hype is about."
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Rubio (49-5-1, 42 KOs), of Mexico, is a vastly experienced fighter and the most significant opponent of Lemieux's career. Rubio has won six fights in a row since he was stopped in the ninth round by then-middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in February 2009.
The winner of Lemieux-Rubio will move into a mandatory position to face the winner of the expected May fight between titlist Sebastian Zbik of Germany and Mexico's Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who first has to defeat Billy Lyell on Jan. 29.
Michel said the WBC has ruled that the Zbik-Chavez winner will be allowed an optional defense before having to face the Lemieux-Rubio winner in the mandatory defense.
Zbik recently was handed the WBC's 160-pound title after Sergio Martinez, still the division's lineal champion, was stripped of his alphabet belt.
Lemieux does not care whom he has to fight to get his hands on a title belt.
"I am thrilled with this news and very excited about all the possibilities that are waiting for me after I win this fight," Lemieux said. "I know that it is now up to me alone to pass this test and enter the next chapter of my career. Rubio has a ton of experience and they tell me that he packs a hard punch, but now we'll see if he can take one, too."
Lemieux (25-0, 24 KOs), a three-time Canadian amateur national champion before turning pro in 2007, was one of ESPN.com's top prospects to watch this year after a 2010 in which he scored four knockouts in his five fights while modestly increasing competition against opponents such as Hector Camacho Jr. and Elvin Ayala. Lemieux knocked them both out in the first round.
Also Friday, Canadian promoter InterBox won a WBC purse bid for the light heavyweight title elimination fight between former titleholder Adrian Diaconu (27-2-0, 15 KO), 32, a native of Romania based in Montreal, and Chris Henry (25-2-0, 20 KO), 29, of Houston.
InterBox was the only bidder, making an offer of $70,000. Under the terms of the purse bid, each fighter will receive 50 percent of the offer.
InterBox has not announced the date and site of the bout, but it has two weeks to finalize them.
The winner of Diaconu-Henry will become the mandatory challenger to champion Jean Pascal.
Pascal, who already owns two victories against Diaconu in 2009 title bouts, will have at least one interim bout before the mandatory fight. He will face either Bernard Hopkins in a rematch of their exciting Dec. 18 draw or face former titlist Chad Dawson in a rematch.
Pascal scored an 11th-round technical decision victory against Dawson in August.
"We are very happy to have won the bid," Jean Bedard of InterBox said. "We tried hard to come to terms with Team Henry during the free negotiation period but it all collapsed right before the bid. Maybe they believed this fight was worth more than what we originally offered them. This is an extremely important fight for Adrian, so we will be busy over the next few weeks studying where to best place this fight."
Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.