UNCASVILLE, Conn. — Three thoughts on the Curtis Stevens-Saul Roman headlined fight on Saturday night…
Stevens sent a message. In the weeks before the fight there was plenty of talk that with an impressive showing Stevens — a once-promising super middleweight prospect who has reinvented himself as a middleweight — would be in line for a shot at 160-pound champion Gennady Golovkin. Consider his first-round knockout of Roman a very impressive showing. Roman is a journeyman, but he has fought (and gone rounds with) the likes of Sergio Martinez, Yuri Foreman, Gabriel Rosado and Vanes Martirosyan. Not with Stevens. Stevens came out aggressive, dropping Roman with a picture-perfect left hook on the chin a little over a minute into the first round and flattening him with another hook just over a minute later, a Knockout of the Year candidate that had the referee waving the fight off without a count. Roman is a tough guy, and Stevens just ran him over.
The Golovkin fight is now Stevens’ if he wants it. Golovkin’s promoter, Tom Loeffler, told SI.com on Saturday that he was very interested in matching Golovkin against Stevens in November, when he has an HBO date at Madison Square Garden. The exposure Stevens has gotten this year fighting on NBC Sports Network and his Brooklyn roots makes him a natural fit.
But while Stevens wants the fight, there are strong indications those in his camp want to wait. Main Events CEO Kathy Duva has expressed reluctance about rushing Stevens into a Golovkin fight, believing (probably correctly) that if Stevens keeps clobbering opponents the fight will still be there, and possibly be bigger. Stevens’ uncle/trainer, Andre Rozier, who has trained Stevens since he was five-years old, also prefers to wait. It’s certainly possible that Golovkin’s team, with HBO’s cash, approaches Main Events with an offer too good to pass up. But right now it’s looking more likely that Stevens will be back in November, just on NBC Sports.
Chambers falls flat. The anticipated debut of former heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers at cruiserweight turned out to be a disaster, as Chambers was shellacked in a lopsided decision defeat to unheralded prospect Thabiso Mchunu. The speed, accuracy and activity Chambers was known for as a heavyweight was nonexistent against Mchunu, who consistently beat Chambers to the punch and had Chambers noticeably wary of his power. Chambers is now at a crossroads. He could go back up to heavyweight, where his skills have more of an impact against bigger men. Or he could stay at cruiserweight, where he will have to completely rebuild his career, likely off television, against lesser competition.
Meet Tony Harrison. Harrison, the youngest protégée of the late Emanuel Steward, submitted a spectacular performance on the undercard, stopping Alex Sanchez in the second round. It’s been a tough year for Harrison, a junior middleweight who has struggled to find quality fights since Steward’s passing. But back in the ring, Harrison showed why Steward often gushed about his potential. He dropped Sanchez with a clean head shot in the second round and then put him down for good with a crunching body shot (think Golovkin on Matthew Macklin) that left Sanchez flat on his back for several minutes. Harrison oozes potential. Steward often compared his style to Tommy Hearns, and against Sanchez he proved he is not afraid to mix it up to get a knockout. Expect Main Events to bring him back, quickly.
– Chris Mannix