NEW YORK -- If the fight was an audition for a major middleweight bout -- perhaps a summer 2015 showdown with titleholder Gennady Golovkin -- David Lemieux aced it.
Lemieux put on a powerful display in an exciting action fight against Gabriel Rosado and scored a 10th-round knockout Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Lemieux, making his HBO debut, is viewed by the network as a possible 2015 opponent for the power-hitting Golovkin, who is under contract with the network, and the performance against Rosado should get people interested.
Lemieux (33-2, 31 KOs), 25, of Montreal, who was making his United States debut, was aggressive, threw hard punches, took good shots and dominated Rosado, who was in a big hole due to a terribly swollen left eye, one that eventually caused the surprising end to the fight when New York State Athletic Commission chief medical officer Dr. Barry Jordan stepped onto the ring apron to order it stopped.
"Hats off to Rosado. He is one hell of a fighter," Lemieux said. "I had tremendous preparation. I wanted to show all of you what I could do. I wanted to make a statement. Rosado is even better than I thought. I hope you enjoyed it."
The 6,532 in attendance definitely did, as they cheered wildly throughout the fast-paced fight, although most were rooting for Rosado (21-9, 13 KOs), 28, of Philadelphia.
Eric Gomez, vice president of Rosado promoter Golden Boy Promotions, was very impressed by Lemieux.
"It was a great performance," Gomez said. "I think that it was a coming-out party. He's got the style that transcends any nationality. He's got the style to fight in the U.S. because people are going to want to see him. He's an exciting fighter."
The action picked up in the third round, a huge one for Lemieux. He staggered Rosado with a left hook and then later in the round dropped him to a knee with a powerful uppercut.
Rosado was up at the count of eight and Lemieux was immediately back on the attack. He was chasing Rosado around and Rosado had no choice but tie him up or take punishment. By the time the round was over, Rosado's left eye was a swelling, black-and-blue mess that was closing quickly. It hampered him for the rest of the fight.
"He's a good fighter, man. It was difficult seeing when my eye puffed up," Rosado said. "I saw three of him the whole fight. I was trying to fight and counter as best as I could with one eye. Just my luck."
Rosado has been hampered before by cuts over his left eye, including in losses to Golovkin and Peter Quillin in world title fights, but this time it was the swelling that got him.
"I felt like I was doing good when I could box," Rosado said. "I had a good game plan. I wanted to make him miss and counter but I was a little handicapped with the eye. I give him credit. He's a good fighter."
Round 4 was a round of the year candidate with tremendous back-and-forth action as the crowd went wild.
Rosado, who dropped to 0-4 with a no contest in his last five official boxing matches (not including his August win against Bryan Vera in the Big Knockout Boxing event, which did not count on his official record), broke through early, landing two left uppercuts that rocked Lemieux. He was going for the knockout, but he got a bit overaggressive and Lemieux nailed him with a huge left hook that sent him staggering back. They spent the rest of the round trading, and even referee Steve Willis had a big smile on his face when it ended.
By the sixth round, Rosado's left eye was basically closed and Lemieux was able to land punches Rosado obviously could not see well. Just after the bell rang to begin the seventh round, Rosado was called back to the corner so the ringside doctor could look at the eye, but he allowed the fight to continue.
The doctor took another hard look at Rosado's eye after the eighth and ninth rounds, but allowed him to continue each time. In between was another action-packed packed round in the ninth, one in which Rosado forced Lemieux to the ropes before Lemieux punctuated the round by landing a hard left hook that staggered Rosado at the bell.
Lemieux and Rosado were engaged in an exchange in the 10th round when Jordan ordered the fight to be stopped. Willis didn't notice him on the apron at first, and they continued to fight until he realized what was happening. Then Willis stopped the fight at 1 minute, 45 seconds as the crowd rained boos. It was an odd stoppage, considering how frequently Rosado's eye had been checked.
Lemieux, who led 90-80, 89-81 and 88-82 at the time of the stoppage, scored his biggest victory as he won his eighth fight in a row since reputation-crushing back-to-back losses in 2011, by TKO to Marco Antonio Rubio and majority decision against big underdog Joachim Alcine.
The Rubio fight in particular damaged his reputation. He had been one of boxing's brightest prospects, but his stamina and durability came into question after he dominated Rubio until falling apart. He seems to have overcome that issue even if other fighters still hold it against him.
"I know what Rosado wanted to do," Lemieux said. "He wanted to take me into deep waters. As I said before the fight, I was prepared to go 12 rounds and to be explosive the whole fight."
He was just that and now he might get a world title shot, although Golovkin first has a defense against Martin Murray on Feb. 21 in Monte Carlo.
"I want to be world champion," Lemieux said. "I am ready for whomever is at 160 -- Golovkin, (champion Miguel) Cotto, (former titlist) Quillin. I want to fight the best."
He is likely now to get the opportunity.