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.