The Curious Case of the Not Untalented Curtis Stevens

I made a crack on Twitter on Wednesday night, as I watched the not un-talented CurtisStevens not do all that he was capable against the talented but not superstar-quality Hassan N’Dam.

That bout, a King Sports promotion portions of which ran on ESPN2, left me feeling a bit frustrated, mostly at Stevens.

This, because I’ve seen him show quite a bit more, more tools from both his physical and mental toolbox, than we saw on Wednesday, when the Frenchman N’Dam outboxed the Brooklyner, to a UD12.

And with the win, N’Dam will ready himself to get the winner of the Oct. 8 scrap between IBF middleweight champion Sam Soliman and challenger Jermain Taylor. And Stevens will be left to ponder, who am I, how did I get here, and how the heck to get to where I want to go?

Now, I can’t actually tell you all that Stevens (now 27-5, with 20 KOs) is thinking, because I didn’t speak to him after this loss. But his trainer/uncle Andre Rozier is today pondering similar thoughts. I ratted myself out about that Twitter crack:

Michael Woods ?@Woodsy1069

On Curtis’ headstone will be, “HE NEEDED TO LET HIS HANDS GO.”

Rozier accepted the tweak with class. “You’re not wrong, Mike,” he said. “I’ve been speaking about it a lot. When he lets his hands go, he’s the man. He’s a complete package. I thought he’d roll Hassan. Hassan ran around, scared to death. Curtis’ job was to bang him up. I told Curtis, ‘Don’t let him cute you out.’ He has the punch, the jab the weapons. And when he doesn’t use them, it’s a disservice to himself. If he didn’t have the talent, it wouldn’t hurt as much. And why doesn’t he use the tools? We have to discover that, we have to figure it out.”

Because while Hassan N’Dam showed a fine game plan, and good technique, he didn’t announce himself as the middleweight Muhammad Ali last night. We can debate how much his win had to do with what he did, against what Stevens didn’t do, but we can’t debate, there isn’t one to be had, that Curtis can do better.

Some of that fire we saw in round three and round twelve…why is that not the norm?

Why isn’t he fighting like he really, badly wants to win for too much of too many rounds?

Why didn’t he try to freeze N’Dam with a single and double jab like Rozier asked for?

Why didn’t he wing rights, to get Hassan to run into one of his left hooks?

Why didn’t he help himself cutting off the ring by meeting N’Dam after doing a half moon, or explode with his feet, beat him to the space Hassan was aiming to go, and meet him with a rude combination? Rozier is curious himself….

Rightly so, Stevens’ promoter will stand by Stevens, she told me.

“Of course we are disappointed,” Kathy Duva said. “But Curtis did his best to make the fight against an opponent who boxed extremely well. I think N’Dam is well on his way to winning another title. And we will sit down with Curtis after he returns from a brief vacation and figure out how to address the areas where he must improve. Curtis is in his 20s (turns 30 in March) and he is still learning. He is fun to watch and ?I think the fans will always want to watch when he brings that big punch into the ring. Hopefully, next time, he will be ready to bring more than that. He’ll be back.”

Stevens, Rozier said, has said before and last night that he was thinking too much. Ah, thinking. The ultimate help and hindrance. We must live an examined life, think and mull our actions and behaviors. But too much analysis can result in paralysis.

“I told Curtis after, these opportunities don’t come around all the time, all that often,” Rozier said. “And yes, we might have to go to a sports psychologist to find out.”

No harm in that. In fact, I’d lobby for the kid–and he’s still 29, he’s not an old man in this game, there’s still time to make the mental strides so he can know win or lose he did his very best with the tools fate has allotted him—to go see someone. It couldn’t hurt and I can say with decent certainty it will help.

“I know he can fight. Does he feel he wants to fight? I maybe have to sit down and have this conversation with my nephew,” Rozier said. “When he’s on, he’s my favorite fighter, when he’s not…” I can hear, over the phone, Rozier shaking his head.

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COMMENTS

-The Commish :

As The Shadow and I have been saying, we heard Stevens' boredom, his almost "I-don't-want-to-be-here-doing-this-interview-and-I-don't-want-to-be-in-the-fight" attitude. Something is going on in his head. Maybe the beating at the hands of GGG took something out of him. Maybe his confidence is cracked worse than we thought. Maybe that fall against GGG cracked Stevens' feeling of being one of the baddest middleweights on Earth. Now, all of Kathy Duva's horses and all of her men, just can't put Stevens together again. -Randy G.


-SouthPawFlo :

I was really disappointed in Stevens last night. He keeps speaking of this "eraser" left hand, but he doesn't have the Skillset to set up the punch.


-brownsugar :

Remember that show from the Sixties....called "The Fugitive" ? A show where an innocent man framed with a murder committed by a cunning and nefarious villian known as the "One Armed Man"? The one armed man made amputees all across nation seem more like cunning predators capable of feats of inhuman strength instead of handicapped individuals. Because the One Armed Man only had one arm .....his one remaining arm became insanely strong because he had to do everything single handed. The One Armed Man was being hounded relentlessly by the protagonist who finally got his man in the season finally. But in this case it was the one armed man doing the stalking. Trying to left-hook himself into the history books utilizing a solitary attack futily while N'Dam was floating effortlessly around the ring as if he was channeling the spirit of Ali. The One armed man had his chance.... It will be a while before he gets this close to an eliminator again. I don't think the GGG fight took anything out of Stevens .... If any thing he seemed emboldened. He survived 8 rounds with The Dragon and was retired on his feet. A much better finish than most have had after meeting GGG face to face. Stevens seemed to become more brazen and over confident if that's possible. But there was nothing he could do to close the gap in skill between himself and N'Dam.


-DaveB :

I can't believe I gave up sleep to watch this guy but then I did get some sleep during this snoozer.


-Carmine Cas :

Stevens just seems to go for the knockout, and if it doesn't come he becomes disinterested he seems to lose interest. Stevens is susceptible to being lulled in the ring, I've heard stories of him getting the short stick in sparring back in NY before GGG because he swings for the fences and can be outboxed. Sparring isn't always indicative but it's something.


-The Commish :

Stevens just seems to go for the knockout, and if it doesn't come he becomes disinterested he seems to lose interest. Stevens is susceptible to being lulled in the ring, I've heard stories of him getting the short stick in sparring back in NY before GGG because he swings for the fences and can be outboxed. Sparring isn't always indicative but it's something.
Perhaps this isn't the field Stevens really wants. Even his uncle/trainer/buddy Andre Rozier is looking for a man-to-man sit down with Stevens to find out if this is what Stevens really wants. He trains hard and listens in the gym. He knows what his fight plan is. "I must keep the pressure on and let my hands go," he said to many reporters, as well as on my SiriusXM show before bailing out. K\He knows what he has to do. Only, when the bell rings, he doesn't do it. Before he can get back in the ring again, Uncle Andre must have a heart-to-heart with him and find out if Curtis really wants to fight. If he does, it's back to work, and with a different attitude, a different mindset. Curtis Stevens has the ability and skills to be a very good fighter. We're just not sure if he's got the head for it. -Randy G.


-thegreyman :

He was simply outfought. Whether it's because of a mental barrier or not, he performed badly and N'dam very well.


-Kid Blast :

If it gets to that point, I'd rather see Taylor fight N'Dam than Stevens for Taylor's own good. But if Taylor beats SS and then N'Dam, he could face GGG and that fight should be banned by all that is holy and merciful.


-Kid Blast :

I can't believe I gave up sleep to watch this guy but then I did get some sleep during this snoozer.
I went to bed


-Skibbz :

N'dam was made to look better than he is by a poor Stevens. GGG would pummel N'Dam into submission very fast, he cuts off the ring and maneuvers his opponent into position with great skill - I think it'd a fight that will be made in 2015.


-brownsugar :

N'dam was made to look better than he is by a poor Stevens. GGG would pummel N'Dam into submission very fast, he cuts off the ring and maneuvers his opponent into position with great skill - I think it'd a fight that will be made in 2015.
Correct GGG wouldn't have been "slow walking" N'Dam around the ring for the first 8 rounds while exhibiting severely negligent urgency the way Stevens did....N'Dam has fantastic mobility but it wouldn't take the equivalent of a Cheetah to eventually shut down the real estate and trap the fleet footed dancer along the ropes. I'd love to see that fight. If just to see how GGG would adapt.