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HBO Boxing Preview: Golovkin vs. Stevens, Perez vs. Abdusalamov

By: William Holmes

Last Saturday Golden Boy Promotions’ middleweight champion Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin struggled rather unexpectedly against the tough and rugged Gabriel Rosado, but was still able to score the close win.

Another middleweight champion, the hard hitting Gennady Golovkin, had also previously fought Gabriel Rosado but he did so in a much more convincing matter.

On Saturday night, Gennady Golovkin looks to defend his WBA middleweight title in New York City and prove to that he has the best chance at dethroning Sergio Martinez as the middleweight kingpin when he takes on the powerful and revived Curtis “Showtime” Stevens.

On the same card, heavyweights Mike Perez and Magomed Abdusalamov meet in a bout that will settle which of the two are pretenders or contenders.

The following is a preview of both the HBO televised bouts on Saturday night.

Mike Perez (19-0) vs. Magomed Abdusalamov (18-0); Heavyweights

It’s become increasingly rare to see two undefeated heavyweight prospects face off against each other. Boxing fans have become too used to seeing hyped heavyweight prospects face off against overmatched cab drivers and caddies.

But on Saturday, two undefeated heavyweight prospects with vicious knockout power will face off to help give some clarity to the heavyweight division.

The undefeated Cuban boxer Mike Perez (who fights out of Ireland) has stopped twelve of his opponents, including three of his last five. Perez is in his athletic prime and fights as a southpaw. He has a solid amateur background and has won the World Junior Amateur Championships as well as the International Prizefighter tournament.

He’ll be three inches shorter than Abdusalamov and his quality of competition at this point in his career has been subpar. He last fought in May of 2013 and won a wide decision victory against Travis Walker. He didn’t fight at all in 2012 after fighting six times in 2011. He has defeated fighters such as Tye Fields, Gregory Tony, and Kertson Manswell.

Mago Abdusalamov: no cabbies or caddies for him

Perez is taking a big step up in competition when he faces off against Abdusalamov.

“Mago” Abdusalamov has stopped every single one of his opponents that he has faced. He is slightly older than Perez, but by no means is he over the hill. Abdusalamov is also a southpaw and this will be his third fight in 2013.

Abdusalamov has been considerably more active than Perez the past two years, so he shouldn’t have to worry about ring rust. His competition has only been marginally better than Perez, but he has stopped the likes of Victor Bisbal, Jameel McCline, Maurice Byarm, and Sebastian Ignacio Ceballos.

Abdusalamov also comes from a deep amateur background and was the Russian amateur champion two times as a super heavyweight. He suffered a loss to David Price in the qualifiers for the 2008 Olympics.

Abdusalamov also has a good chin. He was dropped by Jameel McCline in 2012 but was able to recover and still pull off the victory.

HBO has shown this past year that they want to put on exciting and meaningful fights for their fans, and this one fits nicely into their plans. Abdusalamov has had more US television exposure than Perez and should be considered the slight favorite.

Gennady Golovkin (27-0) vs. Curtis Stevens (25-3); WBA Middleweight Title

When Main Events Promotions signed a deal with NBC Sports Network to televise their cards, many in the industry ignored the significance of that deal.

Fighters such as Sergei Kovalev, Bryant Jennings, and Gabriel Rosado made themselves valuable commodities by competing on the NBC Sports Network. Curtis Stevens is another fighter who has been able to use the NBC Sports Network deal to catapult himself into a title shot.

Much has been made of Golovkin’s current streak of nineteen straight stoppages. Stevens is also known for his power and has eighteen stoppages on his record including three stoppages in his past four fights.

Stevens has previously fought as a super middleweight, but he has rejuvenated his career by dropping down to the middleweight division. It was a wise move, since he was too short for the super middleweight division. However, he will still be giving up four inches in height to Golovkin.

They were both successful when they competed as amateurs, but Golovkin experienced success on the international level, while Stevens experienced success on the domestic level.

Stevens’ three losses have come to Marcos Primera, a loss he revenged in an immediate rematch, Andre Dirrell, and Jesse Brinkley. His notable victories were against Saul Roman, Derrick Findley, Elvis Ayala, and Dhafir Smith.

Golovkin, understandably as the champion, has faced better competition than Stevens and has been more successful inside the ring against them. He has already fought three times in 2013 and has been receiving a heavy push from HBO. He has defeated, easily and impressively, Matthew Macklin, Nobuhiro Ishida, Gabriel Rosado, Grzegorz Proksa, Kaasim Ouma, and Milton Nunez.

In boxing, all it takes is one punch to score an upset victory, and Stevens has that ability. But Golovkin is too well polished of a fighter to put himself in dangerous situations.

Golovkin should have his knockout streak extended on Saturday night.

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