David Benavidez entered his fight with David Lemieux on Saturday night as a heavy favorite to win the WBC interim championship and put himself in line as a mandatory challenger to undisputed 168-pound champion Canelo Alvarez. He also knew a simple victory would not be enough to increase the demand for that fight. Benavidez responded with a dominant performance, brutalizing Lemieux before scoring a TKO in the third round when Lemieux's corner mercifully spared him any further damage.
Lemieux (43-5, 36 KO), who spent most of his career at middleweight, looked two weight classes smaller than Benavidez (26-0, 23 KO), who is on the bigger end of the super middleweight division. That left him with a need to wade through dangerous territory to close the distance into punching range.
That face-first attack worked fine for roughly two minutes of the first round, where Lemieux was able to land a few left hooks as he trapped Benavidez against the ropes. Then a massive left hook sent Lemieux flying into the ropes where he'd take punishment from piles of power shots from Benavidez until the bell.
Lemieux tried to storm out of the corner to start the second round, but Benavidez was happy to exchange fire, sending Lemieux to the canvas 20 seconds into the frame. Lemieux was told by the referee that he would be on a short leash before the fight was stopped, and to his credit, Lemieux continued walking forward and throwing power shots.
Uppercuts and hooks continued to land for Benavidez, rocking Lemieux's head back repeatedly only to see Lemieux survive the round on sheer guts.
Lemieux amped up his output even more in the third, trying to break Benavidez down with body shots and the occasional hook to the head. Despite the show of heart from Lemieux, he was clearly stunned by nearly every punch Benavidez landed, repeatedly stumbling backwards as Benavidez landed clean to the chin.
The response to the shots was enough for Lemieux's corner to call for the fight to be stopped at the 1:31 mark of Round 3.
"My hat is off to David Lemieux because he's the only one who had the balls to try and fight me," Benavidez said after his victory before turning to which big name he wanted to get in the ring with. "I'm waiting for them to send the contract. Them bitches know what's up. I'm waiting for them. I'm not scared of nobody. ... I guarantee you I'll knock everybody out."
Benavidez has twice held super middleweight world championships in his career, losing those titles outside of the right. He was stripped of the WBC championship the first time after testing positive for cocaine and was then stripped of the title after regaining it when he failed to make weight for his 2020 fight with Roamer Alexis Angulo.