Curtis Stevens has labeled Gennady Golovkin the “so-called ‘most-feared middleweight in the world,'” and the “god” among “the peasants in the middleweight division,” even as he vows to destroy the undefeated WBA titleholder when they clash on Saturday night at New York’s Madison Square Garden.
Having earned his 14th straight stoppage win against Matthew Macklin in June, Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, insists that Stevens will represent a “short night for Gennady,” adding, “I also expect that as soon as Curtis gets hit with the first jab, he’ll be more scared than Macklin was.”
Still, Golovkin (27-0, 24 knockouts) is facing a potent puncher in Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), whose stoppage of Saul Roman in August represented his third first-round knockout during a run of four straight wins.
Although Sanchez ranks Golovkin behind Sugar Ray Robinson, Bernard Hopkins as being among the top middleweights of all time, the former Olympic silver medalist has yet to face an opponent with the athleticism of the Brooklyn-based Stevens.
“Gennady Golovkin might be one fight away from a big 2014 against a rich mix of possibilities, including Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.,” said Norm Frauenheim of THE RING and 15rounds.com. “A misstep against Curtis Stevens is unlikely, although the way Golovkin deals with potential distraction is interesting. In addition to Stevens’ trash talk, there’s controversy about Golovkin’s Grant-made gloves.”
That information surfaced recently from Gabriel Rosado, upon whom Golovkin administered a bloody seventh-round stoppage loss at The Garden in January.
Although Stevens believes Golovkin’s come-forward style will work to his disadvantage, there are those who question Stevens’ resume.
“Curtis Stevens has been built into a welcome challenger for some by knocking out undersized opposition in his recent run. Gennady Golovkin is neither undersized or underskilled the way past Stevens opponents have been…I expect Stevens to go out in a guns-blazing style.”
Below, RingTV.com sought the opinions of 24 boxing insiders as to their thoughts on what will transpire in Golovkin-Stevens:
Gennady Golovkin by middle-rounds KO:
Curtis Stevens will be most dangerous in the first two rounds and I expect those two rounds to be electric, because his power is world class, as is Golvokin’s. Fans will be treated to an old fashioned shootout early in this fight. However, though Stevens has good skill and technique, his craft is not on Golovkin’s level. He’s not able to protect himself from jabs, right hands and body shots (despite his tight guard and compact frame). Watch is fight with tough journeyman Derrick Findley from last April for an expample of these defensive flaws. Findley was able to land his right hand and back Stevens to the ropes where the New Yorker got off in spots but also did a lot of covering up, which made him vulnerable to body shots from the squat journeyman. Golovkin will do the same thing to Stevens on Saturday only he will do so with a power jab and more accurate and powerful crosses and hooks. Stevens will try to stand his ground but once he gets buzzed by a right hand he will instinctively cover up and back to the ropes. That’s where Golovkin will finish him with some well-placed body shots.
Record: 12-9 [Hopkins UD 12 Murat]
Gennady Golovkin TKO 9 Curtis Stevens: Gennady Golovkin might be one fight away from a big 2014 against a rich mix of possibilities, including Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
A misstep against Curtis Stevens is unlikely, although the way Golovkin deals with potential distraction is interesting. In addition to Stevens’ trash talk, there’s controversy about Golovkin’s Grant-made gloves.
Thus far, nothing has distracted Golovkin from the task in front of him. In Stevens, he faces a fighter known for quick work, including three first-round stoppages in three of his last four bouts.
The patient Golovkin is skillful enough to avoid the early assault and take him into later rounds with sustained power and precision that will end it.
Record: 21-8 [Hopkins UD 12 Murat]
Gennady Golovkin KO 3 Curtis Stevens: When two true power punchers collide, how do we as experts decide who’s going to win? We turn to defensive liabilities and the ability of each puncher to deliver that power on target.
In the case of Gennady Golovkin against Curtis Stevens, we have a pair of potent pugilists with comparative pop in their gloves. But a vast difference exists in each boxer’s ability to avoid incoming fire.
Golovkin’s upper hand in defense can be traced to his vast experience as an amateur. GGG also exhibits superior punch accuracy and boxing ability.
In addition to world class trash talk, the Brownsville-born challenger possess clubbing power. The WBA middleweight champion Golovkin packs precise power and lets his fists do the talking.
Put these factors in the ring and what you have is a shootout until Golovkin’s advantages become too much for Stevens to overcome.
At some point in the first half of the fight, Triple G will score his third one-punch KO this year and all that will be left for experts to decide is which one of them to choose as the 2013 Knockout of the Year.
Record: 18-8 [Hopkins TKO 11 Murat]
Gennady Golovkin TKO 3 Curtis Stevens: For the moment, I don’t think there is a middleweight in the world who can handle Gennady Golovkin.
Curtis Stevens has technical qualities of his own, plenty of power and he’s hungry for what would be a huge upset victory. But this is reality.
Golovkin is better in almost every department, and he’s the bigger man, which spells trouble for the Brownsville native. I expect Golovkin to start fast and go after Stevens.
Golovkin will be looking to punish Stevens heavily in response to some unsavory comments during the pre-fight build up. Once Golovkin hurts his opponent, he’ll stay hurt, and the finish will be both brutal and early.
Record: 11-7 [Hopkins UD 12 Murat]
Gennady Golovkin TKO 7 Curtis Stevens: Given the styles, this will likely be an explosive encounter. Curtis Stevens is an extremely dangerous puncher early, especially with the left hook. But so far Gennady Golovkin, has shown he has an effective defense despite his aggressive mindset.
We still don’t know whether Stevens can compete with high-level opposition and whether he can hold his frustration in check when things don’t go his way early. Golovkin has the goods to test Stevens’ mental mettle, and if Stevens passes the test, he improves his chances considerably.
But while there are unanswered questions about Stevens, the same can be said for Golovkin. For example, we know he can dish it out — his long KO streak is testament to that — but can he take it just as well?
To be a great champion, you have to be able to do both, and Stevens has the firepower to either certify Golovkin or disqualify him. Not knowing the answers to any of these queries, we can only go by what we’ve seen.
The litmus test is the “eye test,” and to me, it indicates that Golovkin has the better all-around skills and pedigree. Stevens’ aggressive nature — and his confident pre-fight chatter — will demand that he goes for it, and that will be his downfall.
Record: 17-7 [Alvarado W 12 Provodnikov]