Middleweight Curtis Stevens, heavyweight Tomasz Adamek and cruiserweight Thabiso Mchunu all nabbed impressive wins Saturday night on NBC Sports. The three bouts took place at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut.
In the main event, middleweight contender Curtis “Showtime” Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs) defeated Saul Roman (37-10, 31 KOs) by first round knockout in what might be his most impressive win to date.
Stevens let it be known beforehand he wanted to challenge number one ranked TBRB middleweight and WBA titlist Gennady Golovkin next, so he was looking for an impressive performance to help make the case.
And so it was.
Stevens started fast and furious. He clipped Roman with an overhand right early, then had him up against the ropes and hurt. A few seconds later, Stevens deflected Roman’s right hand return to land a hard left hook to put his opponent down. The brave middleweight rose to his feet, but was quickly dispatched again by the aggressive Stevens. Again, it was a devastating left hook from Stevens that put Roman down, this time for good.
Like a shark sensing blood, Stevens saw his opponent hurt and went in for the kill. He knocked Roman out cold at 2:26 of the first, making the statement he so desired.
On the undercard, heavyweight contender Tomasz Adamek (49-2, 29 KOs) defeated Dominick Guinn (34-10-1, 23 KOs) by unanimous decision. Adamek was as sharp as ever.
In the first, Guinn immediately employed a quick jab up and down Adamek’s torso. The former heavyweight contender, 38, started the fight as if he knew this was his last chance at glory. The two men had been sparring partners in the past and it showed. Both came into the ring knowing each other’s tricks.
Adamek worked hard in the first to show his power. While Guinn was busy, Adamek was patient and used real power whenever he got in close. Quick jabs from Adamek ended the round, but Guinn had done enough early to take it.
In the second, Adamek started the round busier. He moved in closer to punching range, and ate some right hands from Guinn because of it. Still, Adamek’s jab was quick and snappy in the round. Both men were landing hard punches, though not cleanly. Adamek probably did the best work with his jab.
Adamek made Guinn miss more in the third, and his jabs and fast right hands were as effective as ever. Guinn had little answer for the active Adamek. A headbutt from Adamek opened up a cut near the end of it, which only served to galvanize Adamek.
A lighting quick jab opened up things for Adamek in the fourth. He was growing increasingly confident in his approach while Guinn’s bravado started to fade. The fight was being fought at closer quarters now, which was good for the shorter-armed Adamek. Three- and four-punch combinations were the norm now for Adamek. Guinn tried to keep up the pace, but labored under the blood and sweat of his brow.
A peppery jab told the tale in the fifth, and it was the sliding in and out of range Adamek who was serving it. Guinn tried to employ a stiff jab of his own, but he was lulled into activity far too much to be effective. Adamek was the boss in both punches and pace.
It was more of the same in the sixth and seventh. Adamek kept Guinn off balance with educated punching patterns. Guinn was mostly inactive, though had limited success during the rare times he let his hands go.
Adamek opened up in the ninth, and he appeared as fresh as ever. He landed hooks, uppercuts and right crosses as much as he wanted. He was aggressive without being greedy, and he looked as sharp as ever.
The tenth and final round played the same. Adamek, a smart fighter, had to know he had the bout in the bag. He didn’t give up the round, but decided digression was the better part of valor and was content to take the win by decision.
And that’s exactly what he did. Judges scored the fight unanimously for Adamek by scores of 99-91, 99-91 and 98-92.
Finally, previously unknown cruiserweight Thadiso Mchunu (13-1, 9 KOs) made a statement by dominating former heavyweight title contender Eddie Chambers (36-4, 18 KOs) with an impressive showing of real skill. It was Chambers’ first fight after a move down from heavyweight to the cruiserweight division, and it may have been a huge mistake. Mchunu was faster, landed with more power and had the better defense.
Mchunu, a slick southpaw, used sharp, straight punches to keep Chambers at bay. While Chambers moved forward, the sharpshooting Mchunu landed clean, hard jabs and precise left hands.
Chambers’ high guard was woefully ineffective. He appeared sluggish and lazy at times, and his greatest asset at heavyweight, his speed, was reduced to molasses compared to the leaner, quicker Mchunu.
Mchunu controlled the pace round after round. Chambers landed very few punches, despite his cocky behavior in the prefight buildup.
All ten rounds played the same song. Chambers moved forward in every round looking to land but was unable to put anything together. Meanwhile, Mchunu was leaning back and forth on his back foot landing power shots one after another.
It was the 24-year-old Mchunu’s first venture outside his home country of South Africa, but he seemed at home fighting in the cruiserweight division against interloper Chambers. Chambers’ usually solid jab was active, but didn’t land nearly enough to keep Mchunu from picking up most of the rounds. Final punch stats showed Chambers’ jab landing at a paltry six percent.
Chambers did find more of a home for it in the seventh, but his backhand power shots were thrown very little and landed even less. The American slickster was reduced to following the smaller man around the ring like a lost puppy. Mchunu was the master, and he opened up in the eighth. He landed a jab, then a jab-cross, then a jab-cross-hook. Next, he was circling, then right back at Chambers with more combinations. All the while, Chambers remained inactive and appeared befuddled.
A confident Mchunu looked the part of real contender in round nine. He landed hard one-twos and smirked at Chambers as he moved in and out of range at will. Chambers had no answer for the puzzle presented him, and Mchunu was landing with just enough power to keep his opponent from rushing in and going for broke.
The final round was a microcosm of the whole fight. Chambers came forward but was tentative and unsure of his approach. Mchunu was the bigger puncher and controlled Chambers with his feet and fists.
When the final scores were tallied, judges at ringside scored the bout for Mchunu by unanimous decision. Scores were 99-91 two ways and 97-93 once for the winner, Mchunu.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV