Monday, January 27, 2014

Curtis Stevens Back With Vengeance

When top Middleweight contender Curtis Stevens entered the ring against undefeated unified WBA/IBO Middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin in November of last year, he was considered by some to be an underdog. This was an opinion that was hard to argue, despite Stevens heading into the fight having knocked out three of his previous four opponents. After all, the opponent in Golovkin has established a career knockout percentage of nearly 90% and a knockout percentage of 100% in Middleweight championship fights. How could anyone argue against such an opinion? Curtis Stevens however, would prove in this fight that he was not a fighter to dismiss as a viable contender.

Stevens’ head movement and quick hands did provide the first significant test for the champion Golovkin in his career. It should not be overlooked that over the last two years Gennady Golovkin has clearly established himself as one of the sport’s hottest rising stars due to an exciting come forward pressure style that few fighters have been able to withstand. Stevens was able to extend the champion into the eighth round before the fight was stopped by his trainer and uncle Andre Rozier at the end of the eighth round.

Even though Stevens lost the fight he clearly proved that he was a legitimate top contender by giving a valiant effort in defeat. Although Stevens’ status as a legitimate contender was clear, this observer was somewhat surprised when it was announced in December that Stevens would return to the ring on January 24th against top contender Patrick Majewski.

Stevens did after all suffer considerable punishment during the course of his fight with Golovkin and it was surprising and maybe even rare in the modern era one might argue to see a fighter back in the ring so soon after a hard fought battle as that fight was. It is however, understandable that Stevens after such a “Game” performance would want to get back in the hunt for what could be a potential rematch with Golovkin down the line.

It should also not be overlooked that Stevens elected to face a world rated contender in Patrick Majewski. Majewski, a veteran of twenty-three professional fights heading into this encounter with Stevens had won four of his last five fights. Although he was coming into the fight off a loss, Majewski was not a fighter to be taken lightly in what is a talent stacked Middleweight division.

Questions prior to this fight regarding what affects if any did the fight with Golovkin have on Stevens were questions that some probably had asked themselves. Stevens however, would bring the fight to a sudden conclusion almost as quickly as the fight began.

Stevens dropped Majewski with a left jab just seconds after the fight began and knocked Majewski down two more times with flurries causing the fight to be stopped at just forty-six seconds into the first round. As this observer has been known to say frequently over the years “Anything can happen at any given time in Boxing and that is what makes the sport great.” This fight was an example of that philosophy.

Simply put there is not much that one could say about a fight that only lasted forty-six seconds. There may be however, some historical precedent of sorts that one might remember after seeing this fight. In December of 1990, Mike Tyson faced top Heavyweight contender Alex Stewart in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The fight which was Tyson’s second bout on the comeback trail after losing his World Heavyweight Championship to James “Buster” Douglas in February of that year one might argue was over before it really started.

Tyson knocked Stewart down only seconds after the fight began with two right hands. Although Stewart got up from the knockdown almost immediately, he offered little or no resistance as Tyson pressed forward knocking Stewart down two more times in route to a first round knockout.

Even though there is not really a direct similarity between that fight and Stevens’ knockout over Majewski, the one similarity at least in this observer’s eyes was that both Stewart and Majewski were caught cold and thus were not able to get into the fight as their opponents seized the opportunity and made it a short night.

In this case the jab that Stevens landed on Majewski seemed to land right on the chin and although Majewski was able to get up from the knockdown, he did not have his legs and thus was an available target for Stevens who subsequently closed the show.

Based on how quickly this fight ended there might be some who may be of the opinion that Majewski was not as credible a contender as he appeared to be going into the fight. This observer respectfully disagrees. It is important to remember that anyone can get caught at any given time in the Boxing ring. Prior to this fight Majewski had only been stopped once in his career against Colombian contender Jose Miguel Torres in six rounds in 2011.

Majewski was also a legitimate top ten to top fifteen contender in the Middleweight division prior to his twelve round unanimous decision loss to Patrick Nielsen. Majewski much like Stewart did many years ago, has proven to be a world class fighter. An argument could and probably should be made that simply Majewski just got caught and was unable to recover. It is not the first time that it has happened to a world class fighter and certainly won’t be the last.

As for Curtis Stevens, he looked about as good as a fighter could in this fight. He saw an opening, he capitalized on that opening, and once he had his opponent hurt he closed the show. There is really not much more that one could ask of a fighter.

What’s next for Curtis Stevens? For anyone who had questions about whether there were any affects suffered in his fight with Gennady Golovkin, Stevens appears to have answered those questions with a resounding no. Not only did Stevens come back successfully from a defeat, but most would probably say he made a statement as he came back with a vengeance. Stevens clearly has reestablished himself as a top contender for any of the world champions in the Middleweight division including Gennady Golovkin.

Whether or not Stevens will find himself fighting for the Middleweight championship of the world again in the near future remains to be seen. If Stevens is not in the immediate plans for any of the current world champions in the division, one option could be for Stevens to face another top contender in Patrick Nielsen who is currently rated in the top five of the WBA, IBF, and WBO in each respective governing body’s Middleweight rankings. Nielsen is scheduled to face contender Tony Jeter on February 15th in Denmark. This observer believes that the winner of that fight could be a viable option for Stevens later this year. There is no doubt in my mind that no matter who Stevens fights next, he is definitely in the discussion of top contenders and could be back in the world title picture sooner rather than later.

“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”

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