Armed with a warrior’s work ethic, a devastating right hand and an infectious charismatic personality, Francis Lafrenière conquered the Canadian Middleweight division, captivated boxing fans around the country and is poised for international stardom.
The reigning WBO-NABO, IBF International and former Canadian Middleweight Champion’s assentation through the ranks is a story of perseverance, determination, and courage. These qualities are the cornerstone of Lafrenière’s persona and boxing brand and for the Coteau-du-Lac native, it’s a foundation forged in adversity.
After earning a draw in his pro debut versus a much more experienced Patrick Terrier at the Montreal Casino, Lafrenière stumbled out of the gate and his foray into the pro ranks was somewhat emblematic of his amateur career and his (3-5-2) debut might have challenged most fighters to think hard about career and possibly tossing in the towel.
But not Francis. Understanding that most of his losses were unfair hometown decisions awarded to his opponent, determined, dedicated, and driven, Lafrenière pushed forward and, under the guidance of his trainer Howard Grant, of Grant Brothers Boxing, and the financial and infrastructure support of his new association with Promoter Eric Kerub; Lafrenière began to find his way, hone his craft, and establish his presence as an alpha-wolf within Canada’s middleweight division.
After overcoming those early losses, Lafrenière pieced together two consecutive wins and on June 28, 2014, Lafrenière’s hard work, dedication and determination paid off when he scored a unanimous decision over Paul Bzdel, capturing the Canadian Middleweight Championship in Lachine, Quebec and his first professional boxing crown.
For the Coteau-du-Lac native, the victory was a significant achievement for a man who draws inspiration from his parents, Jean-Pierre and Diane, who taught Francis how to deal with and overcome adversity. Both Diane and Jean-Pierre are hearing impaired, and the modest and humble values instilled in Francis, by mom and dad serve the fighter well to this day.
Lafrenière displays all the natural qualities of a humble champion, and after capturing the Canadian title; his confidence grew and began to believe he could set his sights on greatness. Lafrenière was ready to take the next step and face a top power-punching contender,; enter Aubrey Morrow.
Leading up to his Canadian title defense, Lafrienière was making a statement in the division, winning three straight fights against quality opponents, all of which with winning records. While the British Columbia native, Morrow, was dropping fighters at a break neck pace, having ended seven of his eight victories via knockout.
This fight presented Lafrenière with his strongest challenge to date, one which the right-hander met in stunning fashion, stopping the hard-hitting Morrow 23 seconds into the 8th round, on October 24, 2015 in Repentigny, a northern suburb of Montreal.
The victory marked a turning point in Lafrenière’s career and set him on a collision course with Renan St Juste and a title shot for the vacant IBF International Middleweight Championship at the Bell Centre.
For Lafrenière, this bout, being featured on the undercard of the Sergey Kovalev vs. Jean Pascal II main event, provided the springboard opportunity every fighter dreams of, an international title shot and a chance to steal the show of a star studded main event.
Lafrenière and to his credit, St Juste, did just that. The fight was an old-fashioned pier 6 special with Lafrenière’s brawling style proving to be too much for the experienced St Juste and after both fighters exhausted their ammunition in a 10-round slugfest, Francis Lafrenière stood victorious and showed the world he was not only ready for the big stage, but he could captivate, entertain and enthrall audiences, scoring a unanimous decision win while capturing the IBF International Middleweight Championship. The fight was voted number six on ESPN’s top 10 list of unforgettable 2016 fights.
A victory and seminal moment for Lafrenière which further ingrained his persona as the “Peoples Champion” prior to his 2 official championship titles! This new-found success has positioned Lafrenière as a viable and entertaining boxing persona, destined for a top 15 world ranking and a future world title fight.
That opportunity would come on February 24, 2017. With the WBO-NABO title vacated by former middleweight champion David Lemieux, Rixa Promotions seized the opportunity and set up a title fight for Lafrenière as the undercard of the Lucian Bute vs. Eleider Alvarez feature event at Center-Vidéotron in Quebec City.
Lafrenière faced the biggest challenge of his career by facing the Mexican Uriel Gonzalez 15 (11KO) -1-1. Gonzalez is one of the best middleweights in Mexico. Although Lafrenière dominated most of the rounds, the Mexican slugger was trying to steal each round with combinations that would have worn down most boxers.
However; Lafrenière applied constant pressure, keeping Gonzalez off balance and after ten brutal rounds, Lafrenière was named winner, via a split decision, to a thunderous applause at Center-Vidéotron.
Against all odds, Lafrenière, is the WBO-NABO middleweight champion and is setting his sights on a world title!