The Theater at Madison Square Garden was filled with raucous boxing fans Saturday night, there to witness fistic fireworks from middleweights Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens in a title showdown televised by HBO.
Sparks and then explosions were produced as champion Golovkin (28-0, 25 KO’s), of Kazakhstan, won an eighth round TKO when Brooklyns’ Stevens’ (25-4, 14 KOs) corner would not allow him off his stool after round eight ended.
In the first round the heavy handed Golovkin (159 lbs) quickly established his powerful jab and showed the poise of a relaxed fighter. Stevens (159 lbs), also known to land bombs of his own, displayed a gloves high defense as he settled in for the fight.
Golovkin’s power was quickly on display as he dropped Stevens with a left hook in the second. Stevens took time to gather himself but rose before the count of ten and continued. He appeared dazed but chose not to hold or clinch, but to fight his way to a clear head.
Perhaps still feeling the effects of Golovkin’s power, Stevens used the third frame to gather his wits and did not let his hands go.
In the fourth Stevens pressed the attack and good action followed. Stevens landed punches and was launching his left hook, a dangerous weapon in his arsenal. Golovkin answered back with combinations of his own, but Stevens seemed to have gained confidence after weathering the earlier storm.
The fifth round was Stevens’ best of the fight as he continued his attack and landed multiple combinations. Golovkin responded with punches of his own, but was aware of Stevens’ power.
Golovkin regained control of the fight in the sixth as he pressed the action and unloaded with punches. Stevens was not using his left hook and was not firing at the same level of rounds four and five.
There was more action in the seventh round as both fighters exchanged in give and take. Golovkin was effective spinning off the ropes and landing. Stevens let his hands go and landed combinations mixing in the left hook.
In the eighth round the tide turned in Golovkin’s favor. He began to walk Stevens down and landed a big left hand early in the round that might have taken some steam from Stevens. Although Stevens gamely tried to answer back, Golovkin’s pressure and power were taking their toll. Golovkin began to land unanswered punches and as the round drew to a close referee Harvey Dock seemed close to stopping the bout.
After the bell sounded to end the eighth round Dock went straight to Stevens’ corner and was informed by trainer Andre Rozier that Stevens would not continue.
Golovkin was comfortably ahead on all three scorecards at the time of the stoppage.
In the televised co-feature heavyweights Mike Perez (20-0, 12 KOs) of Cuba met Russia’s Magomed Abdusalamov (18-0, 18 KOs) in a ten round bout for the USNBC Championship.
It was bombs away in the first round as both punchers went right to work. Even though he gave away several inches in height, Perez (235 lbs) was fearless and held nothing back as he took the fight to Abdusalamov (231 lbs). Perez’s power made a statement as he hurt the Russian.
The action evened out in round two as Abdusalamov landed punches of his own while Perez began to go to the body.
Perez continued to mix in the body work along with his upstairs combinations in rounds three and four, and Abdusalamov found a home for his uppercut. There were good exchanges between the boxers.
In the fifth round Perez’s solid body punching began to pay dividends as Abdusalamov began to visibly tire. The Russian was not throwing many punches and fatigue was etched across his face.
By round six Perez appeared to be gaining control of the fight as he landed multiple combinations and Abdusalamov did not have much of a response.
In the seventh frame Abdusalamov was bleeding from a cut on his left eye and the left side of his face began to swell after eating so many right hands from Perez.
Rounds eight and nine featured back and forth action from both fighters with Perez still in control. In the ninth Perez was deducted a point for a low blow and Abdusalamov found a home for his left hand and right uppercut.
In the tenth and final round Perez landed a big right hand that wobbled Abdusalamov. Perez continued his attack but was unable to put the tired but durable Abdusalamov away.
Perez won a unanimous decision, and the USNBC belt, with scores of 97-92, 95-94, and 97-92.
A twelve round snooze fest unfolded when Ola Afolabi (20-3-4, 9 KO’s) of London, England met Lukasz Janik (26-1, 14 KO’s) of Jelenia Gora, Poland for the IBO cruiserweight title.
Janik was the aggressor when the bell sounded for round one. After the first three minutes the fight continued in a dull methodical fashion until its conclusion.
Afolabi won a majority decision with scores of 114-114, 117-111, 115-113.
Up and coming prospect Dusty Harrison (18-0, 10 KO’s), of Washington, DC, was put to the test in a ten round welterweight bout with tough Josh Torres (12-3-1, 5 KO’s) of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
A polished boxer, Harrison would have to contend with the rough and tumble Torres.
Harrison (146 lbs) remained poised and threw combinations through the first three rounds of the fight even though he sustained a cut over his right eye in the third.
In rounds four through six Harrison continued to box and counter while Torres (146) moved inside and slugged away. Harrison appeared rattled by Torres during a few of moments of the action, but quickly regained his composure and continued to box.
Rounds seven and eight saw each boxer using their different skills to gain the advantage.
In the ninth round Harrison stepped on the gas increasing the volume of his punches and bloodying Torres in the process.
In the final round a left hand by Torres stunned Harrison early, but he settled down and both fighters went at it until the final bell.
Harrison won a unanimous decision, and the WBC youth title, with scores of 100-90, 98-92, and 98-92.
In the second bout of the evening junior lightweight prospect Joel Diaz, Jr. (13-0, 11 KO’S), of Palmdale, Ca faced Bryne Green (7-7-1, 3 KO’s), of Vineland, NJ, in a six round contest.
Diaz Jr. overcame some rough moments in the early going as Green came on strong in rounds one and two.
In the third round Diaz Jr. put together a right hand, left hook combination to the body that dropped Green. Green beat the count and finished the round.
Diaz Jr. controlled the action the rest of the way and put Green, who had run out of gas, down again in the fifth with a right hand.
Green was still standing when the final bell sounded, but Diaz Jr. won a unanimous decision with scores of 60-52 across the board.
The evening kicked off with a four round cruiserweight bout between Isa Akbarbayev (11-0, 7 KO’s) of Kazahkstan taking on Brian Clookey (4-1-2, 2 KO’s) of Chase Mills, NY.
Akbarbayev won a unanimous decision with scores of 40-36 across the board, but the game Clookey came to fight.
The announced attendance for the evening was 4,618, two seats short of a sellout.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV