Three years ago, Curtis Stevens was dropping a decision to Jesse Brinkley, of all people, and the career of a young man who had once been touted as a highly promising prospect seemed to have plowed headlong into a roadblock. Now, after two years off, a move from super middleweight to middleweight, and four straight victories, Stevens is in the frame to not only fight for a world title but to do so against one of the hottest properties in the sport, Gennady Golovkin.
Golovkin recently caused jaws to slacken at ringside and around the world with a devastating third-round knockout of Matthew Macklin at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, but Stevens could hardly be blamed for hoping his tussle with the Kazakh-born star, should it materialize, will be up the road from Foxwoods, at Mohegan Sun.
That's where he scored a first-round stoppage earlier this year, against Elvin Ayala in January, and where he scored another emphatic opening-frame knockout on Saturday night, when he dropped veteran gatekeeper Saul Roman and then starched him with a left hook that left Roman on his back and referee Mike Ortega dispensing with the need for a count.
"He's a good fighter, but that was just perfect timing," said Stevens as he reviewed footage of the knockout. "My finisher! Golovkin's going to get caught just like that."
That remains to be seen, of course. There's no shortage of observers who think Golovkin is something special and ready to assume the mantle from the aging Sergio Martinez as best middleweight in the world. Stevens, by contrast, still has to beat anyone even close to Golovkin's caliber, and few seem more aware of that than Stevens' team, which has reportedly been hemming and hawing at the mooted matchup. But having one-punch power makes a boxer an attractive proposition, and expect the drumbeats to grow louder in support of that bout -- which could happen as early as November, most likely at neither Foxwoods nor Mohegan Sun, but the Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Also possibly on the road to another title shot before he closes the book on his career is former light heavyweight and cruiserweight titlist Tomasz Adamek, whose wide win over Dominick Guinn was altogether more emphatic than his disputed points verdict over Steve Cunningham in December. But whether he would prove any more successful in a second heavyweight title tilt (his first was a 10th-round TKO loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2011) is an open question.
Guinn deserves credit for hanging in there and taking his licks, despite being in obvious pain and discomfort from a right eye that was cut and swollen as a result of a third-round head-butt, but -- as was all too often his wont, even when he was in his relative pomp -- he was far too diffident and did little more than provide Adamek with a target to hit. Either Klitschko brother -- or a Kubrat Pulev or even Bermane Stiverne -- would provide an entirely stiffer test.
One man who can almost certainly forget about world titles, at least for a while, is former heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers. His debut at cruiserweight had been billed as something of a new beginning, an opportunity for the 39-fight veteran to finally ply his trade in a division with opponents nearer to his size, but it turned out instead to be a rude awakening. At heavyweight, Chambers' great equalizer had been his speed; against the 5-foot, 8-inch South African Thabiso Mchunu, that advantage was absent, and without it, the formerly "Fast Eddie" looked lost.
Mchunu fought a smart fight, standing in a wide stance that provided him with a base on which to pivot into his punches and leaning back, forcing Chambers to lunge with his punches and then countering him. Chambers did not, shuffling forward in straight lines and rarely letting his hands go, seemingly confused by the South African's southpaw style and appearing almost as if he had forgotten everything he had learned in his career to this point. Despite the apparent shock and delight of Mchunu's team at the unanimous points verdict in their man's favor, the result was never in doubt, with the two 99-91 scorecards seemingly more accurate than the slightly kind verdict of 97-93.
Chambers seemed stunned in the aftermath, and professed to be unsure of what lay ahead. This was a bad defeat -- and to make it worse, the fight itself was terribly dull. If there is any consolation to be gained, it's that an unexpected defeat to an unheralded foe need not be a career killer. If Chambers has any doubts about that, he can ask Curtis Stevens.