Gennady Golovkin had a harder time with challenger Curtis Stevens than many if not most expected in the main event at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Stevens fought a smart, disciplined fight, and tagged GGG more than his detractors suggested he could. But body shots, thudding, internal-organ re-arranging sorts of blows, had him hurting in round eight. Stevens, whose stock actually rose with the effort, went back to his corner and his trainers said no more. For his own good, they asked the ref to halt the event.
This event was the first to take place in the Theater since the whole building re-opened, transformed, on Oct. 18, following a three-year, one billion dollar revamp. Golovkin entered with a 27-0 mark, and 24 KOs. Stevens was 25-3 with 18 KOs entering.
HBO showed the clash.
In the first, the 31-year-old Kazahk native worked the jab, came forward, was busier, and won the round, as Curtis looked a bit tight. In the second, the Brooklyn-born hitter, who now lives in Queens, hit the deck late. A left hook on the forehead did it.
In the third, a left hook late bugged Stevens. Golovkin was patient, deliberate, not wasting any motion, as Stevens looked to be defensive, not get caught.
In the fourth, Stevens landed a few clean shots. A solid right nailed Gennady clean, and after GGG landed about three nasty left hooks to the body, Stevens finished the round well. In the fifth, Stevens had a solid round. He was smart, disciplined and didn't make a mistake. He landed, too, a sharp right and a better left hook, and was effective when busy, and not letting GGG dictate pace.
In the sixth, Stevens stayed smart, not wanting to get caught, but wasn't busy enough to win the round. An underrated defender, he kept his guard high, and did just fine despite being having to work off the ropes a bunch. Stevens was first some, but mostly looked to land in between, as Golovkin reloaded, or after a miss, in round seven. In the eighth, Stevens was in a precarious position for almost the whole round. He ate bad body shots and a couple heavy head shots, and did well to make it to his corner. His people didn't want to risk him getting kayoed in horrid fashion, and decided to end the affair.