He didn't gamble much, but before he became a big-shot promoter, Dan Duva used to hazard a prediction every now and again. Usually, it was around Christmas time, and usually, his bride Kathy Duva told me, he'd win, and that meant a bigger bounty under the tree.
Duva passed away in 1996, but Kathy now runs Main Events, which is co-promoting a card at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening. I spoke to Duva, as she watched her guy, middleweight Curtis Stevens, during a workout held for media and fans at MSG on Wednesday at lunchtime.
Stevens (25-3 with 18 KOs; has been stopped once), a 28-year-old from Brownsville, Brooklyn, is the underdog, at 11-to-1 on some boards, against the Bieber-faced banger from Kazakhstan, WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (27-0 with 27 KOs; age 31). HBO will show the scrap.
"This was around 1979 or so," Kathy recollected. "To get Christmas money, he'd bet on a fight." Dan would "pick his spots," she said. He had a formula that he'd apply when his criteria was met; by and large, that criteria would kick in when he decided the odds weren't what they should be, that the underdog had a much better chance to get the W than most assumed. "He'd always bet the underdog," she said.
"I see that here," she continued. "Curtis Stevens, I don't see him an 11-to-1 underdog."
Duva says she laid down a bet, just one time. Evander Holyfield had just jumped from Main Events, but she wasn't bitter. She knew "Real Deal" was no 24-to-1 underdog against Mike Tyson. That had dropped to 16-to-1 right before the bout, when she bet on Holyfield to down Iron Mike, in 1996. She scooped her winnings after Evander won, via TKO11, in their first tangle, on Nov. 9.
Duva wouldn't bet now, it's not proper, but she told me she sees the headline clash as a 50-50 deal. "Anything can happen," she said. "I could tell you I'm one hundred percent sure my guy will win, but that's not honest."
She said that upsets happen, quite often, when someone is expected to have a cakewalk, and the underdog isn't getting so much as a pat on the head from the masses. "I'd say Curtis is a 2-3-4 to 1 underdog, tops," she continued.
Duva said she likes how Stevens has been acting in the last week or so. He's been testy at times, his gameface affixed, semi-surly, ready to get the rumble underway. "Just like he should be," she said. I asked when the last time one of her guys wasn't acting right, was perhaps too chill before a bout. She didn't hesitate. "Zab Judah," she said, before his July 2011 fight against Amir Khan. "He was too happy. He was walking around Las Vegas happy, being too nice. After camp, being with all guys, you've got to be ready to burst, like a coiled spring."
Duva told me a fascinating tidbit. Stevens lobbied hard to get this fight right after Golovkin did a demolition job on Matthew Macklin, in his last fight (KO3 win), on June 29, at the Theater. "Curtis told [Main Events matchmaker] Jolene Mizzone, right then and there, 'Get me Golovkin next,' " Duva told me. "He saw something."
What, pray tell, did he see? We all saw Golovkin dropping and stopping Macklin with a body shot, and Macklin looking like he'd been Tased. "He saw something," she repeated, insisting she doesn't know what, and adding that she wouldn't tell me if she did. "This is going to come down to who lands first, and who takes the better punch. Gennady has been built up to be a killing machine, but it's not who punches harder, it's who takes a better shot."
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