Curtis Stevens was a step behind, sometimes two and three, against Hassan N’Dam in the main event of an ESPN2 card which unfolded in Santa Monica, CA on Wednesday night.
It looked like the ring was a 22 footer at times, as Stevens plodded after N’Dam, and was unable to cut off the ring against the mover. Stevens, used to doing the knocking down, himself hit the deck in round eight, and the conclusion was foregone after 12 rounds. By scores of 116-111, 116-111, 119-108, N’Dam had his hand raised, and he earned a shot at the IBF middleweight crown. That strap is up for grabs next week, with champ Sam Soliman defending against Jermain Taylor.
Stevens’ stock takes a pretty severe dip. N’dam gets props for being focused, but this wasn’t Stevens’ finest night. Or even his tenth finest night…
King Sports, no relation to Don, promoted the show.
Stevens (from Brooklyn), who entered at 27-4, was 158.8, while N’Dam (30-1, with 18 KOs entering; born in Cameroon, resident of France) was 158.
In the first, Hassan moved, mostly to his left, away from that snarly left hook. Stevens was the predator, but was a step behind. In the second, Hassan went to the deck, for the second time, once again a slip. He cranked a jab, a pop but don’t stop type, and kept his distance. Stevens didn’t seem to have an early handle on cutting Hassan off at the pass, making him stop moving.
In the third, Stevens sought to close the distance. He was peppier with his feet, and was a bit more on message with his jab. The traded some in close, and maybe Hassan was getting tired of the movement.
In the fourth, Stevens kept on following, pressing yes, but not for the most part in effective fashion. He wasn’t showing an aggression that you want from such a hurler. His right wasn’t busy, maybe a mistake if he wanted to send Hassan back toward his left hand.
In the fifth, we saw some swelling on Stevens’ eye. The jab from Hassan was present enough to keep Stevens from getting bolder, and his legs still looked fresh. He was helped by the fact that Stevens wasn’t accelerating his stamina depletion.
In the sixth, Stevens came out zestier. Then, he backtracked. He plodded after the Cameroonian. He missed in showy fashion several times. Nope, still hadn’t solved Hassan.
In the seventh, Stevens scored some, and Hassan started looking a bit more concerned. Still no right from Curtis, though. “You started off well, but you’re giving him too much respect,” said Stevens trainer Andre Rozier after the round.
In the eighth, Curtis went down, off a right hand. He was up, with 2:18 left. Hassan flurried, hard and for a good spell, but Curtis’ head was clear and he defended well. A counter left hurt Hassan a bit late. The right came after a jab, while Curtis was hurling a right.
In the ninth, Stevens ate jabs, and Hassan even started backing him up some. Maybe Curtis was luring him…
In the tenth, Curtis had Hassan on the ropes but he got wrapped up. The Hassan jab was landing cleaner by now. In the 11th, Hassan moved when and where he wanted. He did a silly dance late, showing how confident he was. Rozier told Stevens he needed a KO to win, and that he was losing an “easy fight to win.”
In the 12th, Stevens ripped to the body some, and then Hassan slid away. Curtis scored and scared N’Dam late but we went to the cards…
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