Canelo Chavez undercard preview: Lemieux, Matthysse, JoJo Diaz, Marlen Esparza

Expect plenty of action from the featured undercard fights including a showcase for middleweight David Lemieux and the return of Lucas Matthysse.

Fighters on the Canelo vs. Chavez undercard (left to right): JoJo Diez, Lucas Matthysse, David Lemieux, with Bernard Hopkins, Marco Reyes, Emmanuel Taylor, Tino Avila. Photo: Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Boxing

LAS VEGAS, May 5, 2017 – The action begins early at the T-Mobile Arena with the fighters of the Canelo vs. Chavez Jr. undercard. Golden Boy Boxing uses the opportunity to feature its fighters on the rise as well as those looking to make a statement. 

Golden Boy partner and former world champion Bernard Hopkins said, “I want the young fighters to know this a great opportunity to be on this Cinco de Mayo undercard with Canelo and Chavez, Jr. This is a great moment to become a champion and be a part of this historical event. Take care of business, and be sure to put on a great show.” Listen to BHop, fighters.

David Lemieux (left) and Marco Reyes face off at today’s weigh-in in Las Vegas.

In the co-main event, former IBF middleweight champion David Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs) faces contender Marco “Dorado” Reyes (35-4, 26 KOs). Lemieux of Montreal is coming off a spectacular knockout of Curtis Stevens just two months ago. It’s smart for Golden Boy to get him right back in front of a big audience when buzz about him is high. “I’m back, I’m expecting this to be a great night of boxing and to put on a show. I started training immediately after my last fight in March and look forward to Saturday night,” said Lemieux.

Both Lemieux and Reyes made weight at their limit for this bout of 163 pounds, though Reyes had to get on the scale without his shorts to make it.

This fight shouldn’t present a significant challenge for the Canadian. It sets Lemieux up for several opportunities, and makes him an understudy should negotiations for a Canelo vs. Gennady Golovkin fight in September fall apart. Don’t blink during this one.

Lucas Matthysse returns to the ring after a year and a half layoff against Emanuel Taylor. Photo: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, Communities Digital News

The card also marks the return of a fan favorite, former WBC super lightweight champion Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (37-4, 34 KOs) of Argentina. Matthysse will fight at welterweight and face a significant opponent, welterweight contender Emmanuel “Tranzformer” Taylor (20-4, 14 KOs). Matthysse was stopped in ten rounds by Viktor Postol in October 2015. Matthysse’s eye was injured and he has been idle since. But not retired, as he points out.

“Training camp has been great with Joel Diaz, it has worked so well with him,” said Matthysse. “I’m going to put on a great fight.” But Taylor had something to say about this: “Lucas Matthysse is strong and powerful but it’s my time now. I’m here and I’m hungry, I’ve been working my whole life for this.”

This is a make or break return for Matthysse. Fans love him with or without titles, but he’s been in many wars. Both Matthysse and Taylor hit the 147 pound weight limit.

JoJo Diaz Jr. and Tino Avila risk their undefeated records Saturday. Photo: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, Communities Digital News

Undefeated Golden Boy stablemates, NABF featherweight champion Joseph “Jojo” Diaz, Jr. (23-0, 13 KOs) and IBA featherweight champion Manuel “Tino” Avila (22-0, 8 KOs) open the HBO Pay-Per-View beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

“We’re both young, undefeated fighters and there is a lot at stake here for of us because we could both potentially be mandatory challengers,” said Diaz. “We’re going to put on a great show for the millions watching and the thousands in attendance.”

“I’ve been with Golden Boy my whole career, and without them-I wouldn’t be at this stage right now,” said Avila, who promised “This is going to be an action-packed fight and someone’s ‘0’ has to go.”

Diaz is a rising star and he’s faced far more significant opposition on undercards in large arenas. Avila has fought the smaller venues such as the LA Fight Club in Los Angeles. Diaz is a volume puncher rather than a power puncher. He builds up the damage to win, and he should prevail here. Diaz weighed in at 125.5 pounds, Avila at 125 pounds.

Ryan Garcia and Tyrone Luckey will open the “free view” portion of the card Saturday. Photo: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, Communities Digital News

Fighting on the preliminary undercard “free view” stream beginning at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, lightweight prospect Ryan “Kingry” Garcia (8-0, 7 KOs) faces Tyrone Luckey (8-6-3, 6 KOs). Garcia weighed 131.75 pounds, Luckey 131.5 pounds.

Samantha Salazar did what she needed to do to make her 111 pound weight limit. Photo: Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, Communities Digital News

In a women’s showcase, flyweight prospect and former U.S. Olympian Marlen Esparza (1-0) will take on Samantha Salazar (2-3-1). These women will be the very first to fight the same three minute professional rounds as the men. “I’m very proud to be on this card with so many other amazing fighters. On fight night, it’s not about win or lose, it’s about how I win,” said Esparza. Esparza and Salazar both made the 111 pound limit, but Salazar boldly had to strip to nothing to do it.

Former Mexican Olympian Raul “El Cugar” Curiel will make his pro debut against Jesus Sanchez (1-1-2). Both made weight at 148.5 pounds.

Super bantamweight contender Ronny Rios (27-1, 12 KOs) will fight Daniel Noriega (28-10-1, 15 KOs). Both made weight at 122 pounds even. Lightweight prospect Joseph “Diamante” Aguirre (16-0, 9 KOs) will take on Angel Aispuro (8-4-2) beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT. Aispuro weighed 134 pounds, Aguirre 135 pounds.

Aguirre spoke for every Mexican, Mexican-American, and Mexican style boxer who’s dreamed of fighting on one of the biggest fight weekends of the year. “This is my first time fighting in Vegas … this is a dream come true for me.”

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.

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