He turned 32 today, Friday, and can give himself the very best of birthday gifts tomorrow night, against David Lemieux, and on HBO, if he is the good Curtis.
If the Brownsville, Brooklyn native has his head screwed on tight and right, and doesn’t let himself be his own worst enemy, he can gift himself with what would be his signature win, arguably.
Stevens holds a 29-5 record, and right off the bat, deserves cred galore for having maintained a place in the sport for a long spell. He turned pro in 2004, building up his record in NYC, back when they used to hold club shows there. Interestingly, he is still somewhat a work a progress, someone whose legacy is perhaps a bit more up in the air than one might expect for someone with about 13 years under their belt. This is because come fight night, the busy Curtis, who lets the hands go, might show up. Or the one that looks to land a bomb, doesn’t set it up, waits too much, might be present.
The fighter, who has lost to Marcos Primera, Andre Dirrell, Jesse Brinkley, Gennady Golovkin and Hassan N’dam, is aware and fully acknowledges, without obvious annoyance or defensiveness, that busy Curtis needs to step up into the ring against the Canadian Lemieux (36-3; age 28) at Turning Stone.
Stevens (see press chat below) chatted with press this week at a midweek luncheon. I tried to get a sense of what Curtis will show up. “I’m ready to win. The work been done in the gym. The work will get done Saturday.” Him and Lemieux went back and forth on social media off and on the last year. “I saw him (this morning), he didn’t say shit to me. He talks to the cameras. When you see me to my face, you don’t say nothin…He’s frontin, pulling the wool over your eyes…he didn’t tell you he saw me this morning. It was at the Double Tree. I said what’s up David, and he kept running.”
They’d interacted at a few camps, and Stevens said, they were cool. They hit on girls together, tabbed each other “Playboy.” They were cool. But this is business, he made clear.
Stevens said “it all depends if he’s coming to fight. I can make it a rumble or make it a showcase for my boxing skills,” the New Yorker told us.
He’s been up and down, he was told. How does he stay up? “This is life. Sometimes we are at the top of the pinnacle, you may fall. But as long as you keep getting back up. Keep achieving greatness…But to answer your question, I can’t fight with myself inside that ring. That’s what I can’t do. Most of the time I’m not fighting my opponent, I’m fighting myself. I ovethink, ‘Should I do this?’ Or I’m just trying to land that big punch. So most importantly, to keep staying at the top of the pinnacle, I can’t fight myself inside the ring.”
Re-read that last paragraph. That’s the key to this one, which might be Stevens’ to lose. He thinks, and trainer John David Jackson, and promoter Kathy Duva all believe that busy Curtis shows up tomorrow. But we don’t know until the bell rings. If there is hesitation, if there is stalking but not taking gun out of holster, then Lemeiux is favored.
He continued; sometimes he wants to KO you, and land that “equalizer.”
“Let it flow,” he said.
Then, he wins.
“He’s in his feelings, this is business to me,” he continued, when asked about that back and forth beef, on social and on conference calls.
He’s 32, not old, but not young. A win means what? He want another crack at Gennady Golovkin? “We can start round eight, the winner of Danny Jacobs versus Golovkin. Would I fight Danny? This is business, not personal. I’d fight my own brother? How old is he? I ain’t got one. Danny can win, he’s a very excellent boxer, he can win,” said Stevens of Jacobs’ prospects March 18.
His chin will have to hold up, and for the whole 12, not an easy task. “I’m not trying to be mean, not taking nothing away, but his chin is a little suspect. He may go down, or he may get back up.”
Back to him, his brain, his mindset…
“My mind is clear, I'm not stressed out, nothing else to think or worry about,” he said of “LePieux.”
Jackson tells him to let the hands go, “just touch him.” Be busy. “Just flow,” he said.
No, he doesn’t think how many chances will come, what a loss might mean. It could be a barnburner, and if yes, the loser could still be in the mix.
Watch Stevens in wins, and in moments when he’s having good luck, and he’s throwing the hands. Holding up hands, getting caught on the ropes, as Gennady had him, that’s a problem. When the choice is present, throw or no, he must pick throw. Being smart but busy, countering with his own jab, starting rounds busy and staying that way, that will get a W, he knows. In the recent past, he stopped 26-0 Patrick Teixeira in rund two last May. He hurt a hand but still got the W, UD10, in his last effort… against James De La Rosa in November. Curtis is squat, but his pop is bigger than his height. Teixeira hadn’t been down before, but the right sent the loser down and out. Jackson has beefed up Stevens’ awareness of the power in his right hand, Lemieux should be aware. Lemieux boxed better than folks who thought he was merely a bomber figured he could when he met Golovkin, but he doesn’t perhaps have the sort of mobility that Stevens, who likes to plant his feet, can find troubling. There really should be times when we see trades, when someone’s power edge becomes apparent. Both men are comfortable coming forward, exerting their power edge on a foe on the back foot. Both can’t do that tomorrow.
Readers, talk to me. Who wins and how? Will we see busy Curtis or could Lemieux fight in a manner which discourages Stevens’ activity? Weigh in, with a comment.