Former International Boxing Federation champion David Lemieux finds himself in a much smaller venue, with a lot less pressure and attention, than his last time in the ring.
On Saturday, March 12, the Montreal middleweight (34-3-0) is scheduled to face American James de la Rosa (23-3-0) at the 1,302-seat Olympia Theatre, an ornate, 1925 movie house that has become a show venue and, for one night at least, a boxing arena.
In his last fight, on October 17, 2015, the 26-year-old Lemieux got rag-dolled in eight rounds before a packed Madison Square Garden in New York, by perhaps the world's best middleweight, Gennady Golovkin of Kazakhstan.
A low-key comeback is now in order, although he will need to win his upcoming 10-rounder on Saturday with minimum damage to move back into the spotlight. If he does, Lemieux is expected to fight again on May 7, in Las Vegas as part of the undercard to the showdown between Saul (Canelo) Alvarez and Amir Khan.
'We want a world title fight, we're right there. We're ready' - Camille Estaphan
Lemieux said he will not take de la Rosa lightly.
"He's a very good fighter," the 26-year-old said Wednesday. "He's legit, and it's a very good fight to start back after Golovkin."
It would have been safer to wait and not fight again until May, but Lemieux and his manager, Camille Estaphan, felt it was important to keep busy.
"Everything depends on the de la Rosa fight, but we're maximizing things in the time we have," said Lemieux. "We don't want to miss the boat.
"We want to get back on top as quickly as possible."
Last June, Lemieux took the IBF title when he downed Hassan N'Dam, but then he put the belt on the line in his next outing against Golovkin in a bid to unify two middleweight titles. The Kazakh won all seven rounds on all three of the judges' scorecards before the match was stopped in the eighth.
Despite the beating, Lemieux is still ranked fourth in the world among middleweights by The Ring magazine.
"We'll see how he does against de la Rosa but we want a world title fight," said Estaphan. "We're right there. We're ready.
"It's just a matter of finding an opponent with all the politics that exist in boxing."
De la Rosa has a decent record but has lost three of his last six bouts. Like Lemieux, he is coming off a bad loss, a fifth-round knockout at the hands of Hugo Centeno Jr.
De la Rosa ready to 'fight anyone'
The Texan is aware he will be the underdog.
"I'm in boxing to fight the best," said de la Rosa. "I don't duck and dodge anybody.
"I'll fight anyone and it doesn't matter where it is."
Lemieux's trainer Marc Ramsay described de la Rosa as a technically skilled and smart fighter who is the ideal opponent to test the adjustments Lemieux has worked on since the Golovkin disaster. He hopes to show sharper defence, especially against the jab, and better ring movement.
While Lemieux will have home town support, de la Rosa should have the television audience. The card is on pay-per-view in Canada, but will be aired in Spanish on Fox Deportes in the United States.
The co-feature has a light-midleweight bout for the IBF junior title between Steven (Bang Bang) Butler (14-0-1) of Montreal and Sladjan Janjanin (13-0) of Bosnia. Schiller Hyppolite (19-1-0) of Montreal faces Darnell Boone (23-24-4), the super-middleweight who once upset reigning WBC light heavyweight champ Adonis Stevenson.
The next Canadian with a world title shot is Kevin Bizier of Quebec City, who faces IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook on March 26 in England.