Declan Taylor reports from Las Vegas
GARY ‘SPIKE’ O’SULLIVAN’S Las Vegas dream turned to a nightmare as he was despatched by big-hitting David Lemieux in just 164 Sin City seconds.
The contest was elevated to the status of an official eliminator for the WBA middleweight title so they both knew that victory would secure a crack at world honours.
But Spike’s latest title tilt never really got off the ground before French Canadian closed the show with a vicious left hook after 2:44 of the opening round.
Spike arrived in Las Vegas as the underdog with former IBF world champion Lemieux still considered one of the biggest punchers in the weight class.
But he also did so full of the confidence gleaned from upsetting the oddsmakers the last time he was expected to lose, when he stopped highly rated Antoine Douglas in Montreal last year.
The night, meanwhile, Lemieux’s attempt to claim Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO title ended with a lopsided 12-round humbling at the top of the bill.
Spike and Saunders have become great friends since their 2013 fight, which the Englishman won, and he had advised the Mahon man on which sparring partners would help him prepare for the threat of Lemieux.
They had engaged in a bitter war of words during fight week with Lemieux revealing a worrying desire to damage his opponent ‘for life’. Many had predicted that the two fan-friendly sluggers would serve up the fight of the night.
But in the end that was not the case. Lemieux chose Frank Sinatra’s My Way for his ringwalk and the old crooner’s opening line ‘and now, the end is near’ was appropriate.
The 29-year-old charged out from the very first bell and the first punch he threw was a stiff right hand, which was a clear signal of intent.
Spike spent much of the round tucking up and absorbing the shots from Lemieux, who remained on the front foot throughout, switching his attack from head to body.
However, as the round entered its final minute, the Cork visitor seemed to wobble his opponent with a left hook, which gave his corner, fronted by Paschal Collins, some encouragement.
But that was short lived as, within moments, their man was down. Spike stuck out a jab but as he looked to follow it up with a right hand, Lemieux crashed a left hook home.
O’Sullivan’s senses were so scrambled that referee Russell Mora did not even bother to finish his count before waving it.
The vanquished middleweight eventually rose to his feet but looked shell-shocked as the result was officially confirmed.
Lemieux, who had rehydrated from his 11st 6lb weigh-in total to a huge 179lbs, said he was motivated by the pre-fight trash talk.
“Don’t piss me off,” he said. “The message must now be clear.
“I didn’t want all that trash talk from before the fight. But I used it in the right way.
“I always like to give a good knockout and a good fight and I hope you’re all happy.”
Spike, it was reported, banked around €300,000 for his part in his fight, which was by far the highest purse of his career.
Now, at 34 years old, he must decide whether or not he wants to rebuild once more in the aftermath of the third defeat of his 31-fight career.
The42 is on Instagram! Tap the button below on your phone to follow us!