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Without the dressing: That was an early candidate for “Knockout of the Year”. Lemieux (37-3, 33 KO’s) starched the Brooklyn fighter (29-6, 21 KO’s) like a brand-new pair of khakis.

The “Fighting Frenchman” looked world class on his way to obtaining his highlight-reel stoppage, too. He jabbed with enough consistency to fill the void of inaction and dug rib-crunching hooks like clockwork. And though he sported a slight pudge around the midsection, his hand-speed seemed to suffer little.

The first round laid bare that Lemieux was the better fighter, as he not only appeared sharper, but he maintained a gear that Stevens either couldn’t, or felt compelled not to match. An overhand right slightly stumbled Stevens, as well, and much of Stevens’ strategy consisted of timed left hook counter-punches that oftentimes missed their mark.

The second segment saw the not-so-cerebral assassin apply heavier doses of pressure. Stevens managed a few good shots of his own, which Lemieux clearly felt. Most notably was a shot downstairs that had Lemieux grimace temporarily. However, it was much of the same story—the Quebec clubber was busier, quicker, more versatile.

Some, namely the HBO broadcast team (not Lederman), felt as if Stevens had started to turn the momentum in his favor after a better-than-expected second round showing. But it wasn’t the case. Lemieux slowed it down and picked his spots. One of these spots was near the ropes. The 28-year-old Lemieux feinted a jab to the body and then fired off a crisp right hand to the head. Lemieux fell with his right hand in something resembling an old-time shift maneuver and then immediately uncorked a left-hand blast that sent Stevens out colder than an icebox.

The New Yorker laid on the canvass for several minutes before coming to and was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

The Canadian middleweight on a three-fight winning streak stated plainly in the post-fight interview, “I told you what I was going to do, and I did it.” He also insisted that any man at the top was an eligible target, namely Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

This win puts David Lemieux back into the fray and opens up loads of options, outside of Gennady Golovkin, that is.

On the undercard: Yuriorkis Gamboa (26-1, 17 KO’s) got back into the swing of things after a 15-month layoff against serviceable Nicaraguan, Rene Alvarado (24-8, 16 KO’s).

Gamboa focused on his defense in this one and dominated throughout, including the last round in which the referee wrongly called a knockdown in Alvarado’s favor.

The Cuban still has something left in the tank at 35, but he must show more if he expects the best of the best to send a big contract his way.