PHOENIX, ARIZONA | Sometimes we get WWE stuff. Like, taking a banana out of a bag, like, smashing a piece of fruit in the opponent's face, like, going for wacky statements and insults...
Worse, other times, two men act as sportsmen before a big match, politely answer questions and agree on how a confrontation should start.
In that time, sport regained its place. In that time, we feel a deep respect in the two men who will get into a ring and who, to win the fight, will have to hit each other with all their might in the face, liver or plexus.
It happens to be magical. It happened yesterday in Phoenix.
WAIT IN THE CAR
However, the same little games were played as usual. David Lemieux and his group waited in the car for a good ten minutes before heading upstairs to the press conference at the Gila River Arena.
There was no question of Lemieux going to do the beautiful zouf sitting at a table while waiting for David Benavidez to show up. It took the big boss of operations, Virginie Assaly, to call Marc Ramsay to tell him that Benavidez was there with his girlfriend and the baby for Quebecers to come out into the furnace to head towards the building.
That was all. When it was David Lemieux's turn to explain to Showtime and reporters that he was in Phoenix because he always wanted to compete against the best in the business, he never raised his voice. He described Benavidez's style and always kept a courteous tone if he was serious about the content of his responses.
Benavidez took the mic and matched Lemieux's tone. At the end, he said that he was an admirer of David Lemieux when he was a very young boxer and that one thing was certain, neither he nor Lemieux were going to stretch the fight if it was possible to close the books. And that fans would be treated to a great show.
The host took the microphone and handed it to Lemieux:
- What do you say, David?
– I completely agree with Benavidez. We won't tell stories. We are here to fight hoping it will put on a good show for the fans.
Lemieux smiled, Benavidez too. They were in tune and in perfect sync. Behind the back of the press conference host, they stretched their arm towards each other to give each other a fist high five.
Two men who respect each other.
AN EXPLOSIVE FIGHT TO BE PREDICTED
But romance has its limits. As Lemieux said after the official remarks, there is no one who likes to be punched in the face: “But I like to give it however”. Yesterday's sweets do not change the real situation. Respect or not, at the sound of the bell of the first round, two men will advance towards each other. With the goal in mind to knock out the other.
This is why boxing is so special. There is no Gilles Lupien or Dave Semenko to protect the star of the team. The two men are face to face. Eye to eye. Almost naked.
Marc Ramsay recalled yesterday how much boxing requires courage. And how the man who practices it must be special: “I saw some breaking during the press conference. As if they had lost their taste. Almost ready to drop everything. But David has a steely mind,” said Ramsay.
Veterans of the trade have all seen a boxer get crushed before a fight at some point.
Carl Froch had completely dominated Lucian Bute during an interview conducted by Jean-Charles Lajoie on TVA. A few weeks later, wearing heavy work boots, Froch had come to eat a plate of baked beans with bacon and eggs in the cafeteria where Lucian and the Quebecers were staying at the hotel in Nottingham.
The message had been clear. The boss is me.
It had been.
And Jean Pascal, often loudmouthed, admitted years later that Bernard Hopkins “got into his head” during the press conference in Montreal two or three days before the fight.
That day, Hopkins looked like a hitman. Even the journalists did not know how to approach it.
THE CURSED WEIGHING
The weigh-in is scheduled for noon. Outdoors in front of the Gila River Arena. I hope it will happen quickly. 39 in the shade, it distorts the mechanics.
David Lemieux should easily make the weight of 168 pounds. Benavidez, it's not that obvious. The Lemieux clan wants him to exhaust himself in his dehydration.
In addition, Michel Hamelin, the former boss of the Régie, arrived last night in Glendale. He trails his legendary smile.
Camille Estephan is counting on him to sniff out possible crosses...
And who will win and how?
We will speak about it tomorrow.
The Gila River is a beautiful arena. In a nice neighborhood. But no one will ever make me believe that hockey can work in this part of town.
We're 25 minutes from Phoenix. In the afternoon.
Yesterday, three large moving trucks took out the Coyotes stock which, according to a local Renaud Lavoie, still has a large debt of unpaid rent.
If I have time, I'm going to visit the new Coyotes palace. We repeat in Glendale that it looks like the Center Gervais-Auto in Shawinigan.
You have understood that everyone in Arizona knows Shawinigan and the smoked meats of Claude Vallée.
But Camille Estephan has done her homework. And according to him, the economy of the city of Phoenix and its suburbs is easily able to support a hockey team...
It's true that in Montreal, you have to be rich to go to the Bell Centre.