By: William Holmes
The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City was host to the WBA/IBO Middleweight title bout between Kazakhstan sensation Gennady Golovkin and Brownsville, New York native Curtis Stevens. The theater was surprisingly packed for the uninspiring undercards, and was jam packed at the beginning of the televised portion of the card.
The first bout of the HBO portion of the card was between Cuban boxer Mike Perez (19-0) and the hard hitting Russian Magomed Abdusalamov (18-0) in the heavyweight division.
Most experts felt that this bout would be a slugfest and the two fighters did not disappoint. They were both southpaws and came out swinging with loaded shots in the first round. Perez went to the body more often than Abdusalamov early on and neither showed much care for defense. Abdusalamov was visibly stunned by a straight left from Perez, but Perez was warned for a low blow afterwards.
Abdusalamov came out swinging in the second round with a wild left haymaker but his punch missed his target. Perez’s punches were more accurate and he was doing a good job at avoiding the shots of Abdusalamov while sitting on his jab. Abdusalamov was off balance in this round, but he was able to connect with a powerful uppercut that Perez took well.
Abdusalamov had Perez briefly trapped by the ropes in the third round but was not able to do much with the positioning. He was, however, able to land several hard punches when in tight with Perez.
Perez looked to be the more balanced fighter in the fourth round while Abdusalamov was looking to brawl. Abdusalamov was able to land a few hard left hands but Perez was able to take them well.
In the fifth round, Perez’s jab was busier and Abdusalamov looked to be tiring. He was starting to go to the body more, but Perez was simply outboxing him. Perez continued to outbox Abdusalamov in the sixth round and continued to take the shots of Abdusalamov well. Abdusalamov’s corner had to work on a cut over his left eye after the end of the sixth round.
Abdusalamov was able to trap Perez in the corner early on in the seventh round, but Perez was able to fight his way out of it. Mago was able to land a good straight left hand right hook combination in this round, but he did not do much else.
Perez finished the fight by avoiding unnecessary brawls with Abdusalamov and outboxing him: he was deducted a point in the ninth round for a low blow, but he continued to walk Abdusalamov down and apply the pressure. Perez stamped his victory by badly hurting Abdusalamov in the tenth round with a clean and accurate straight left hand.
The final scores were 97-92, 95-94, and 97-92 for Mike Perez.
There was a large contingent of fans from Kazakhstan at the Theatre in Madison Square Garden and they were eagerly anticipating their national boxing hero to walk in the ring after the heavyweight bout between Perez and Abdusalamov.
Gennady Golovkin (27-0) and Curtis Stevens (25-3) met for Golovkin’s WBA and IBO Middleweight belt in the main event of the night. Hometown fighter Curtis Stevens was the first man to walk into the ring, but he was met with a smattering of boos from the Kazakhstan fans in attendance. Golovkin, the champion, came out second and he was cheered by a raucous and excited fan base.
Stevens came out in the first round with a tight and high guard and he was looking for his patented left hook early on. Golovkin was focusing on his jab and using it to find an opening. The crowd was extremely loud and Golovkin looked wary of Stevens’ power early on.
Golovkin’s jab was on point in the second round and he mixed up his combinations to the head and body. Golovkin landed a vicious left hook that dropped Stevens hard in the second round. Stevens was somehow able to get back to his feet and survive.
The crowd was electric at the beginning of the third round and Stevens was still trying to recover from the second round knockdown. Golovkin was throwing a lead left hook this round while Stevens backpedaled to try to escape any more punishment.
Stevens was able to recover in the third round and came out with combinations in the fourth. But Golovkin was able to deftly move out of the way. Stevens was able to connect with a hard left hook and follow it up with a stiff jab, but Golovkin responded with two hard body shots. Golovkin and Stevens had some good exchanges in this round, and it may have been Curtis Stevens’ best round.
The fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds were dominated by Golovkin. His jab was like a hammer and he used it to move Stevens’ around the ring. Golovkin mixed up his combinations to the body and head of Stevens and had him fighting with his back against the ropes. Golovkin was also able to loop his right hook around the guard of Stevens and land it almost at will.
In the eighth round, Stevens started off by landing a thudding right hand, but Golovkin took the punch well and pumped his jab in the face of Stevens repeatedly. Golovkin landed two hard hooks to the body that forced Stevens backwards. Stevens appeared to have been hurt badly by the body shots and Golovkin pounded on Stevens from one corner of the ring to another corner of the ring. Stevens was not throwing much in return and was just taking a beating from Golovkin. The crowd began to rise as they sensed a stoppage may be near, but somehow Stevens did not go down.
However, the beating was too brutal and Stevens’ corner, in consultation with the referee, wisely decided to stop the fight. Gennady Golovkin wins by KO at the end of the eighth round.
After the fight Golovkin was asked who he would like to fight next, and he responded with the name of “Sergio Martinez”.
Martinez vs. Golovkin? Yes, please.
Undercard Quick Results:
Isa Akbarbayev (11-0) defeated Brian Clookey (4-1-2)in the cruiserweight division by decision with scores of 40-36 on all three cards.
Joel Diaz Jr. (13-0) defeated Bryne Green (7-7-1) by decision with scores of 60-52 on all three cards.
Dusty Harrison (18-0) remained undefeated with a decision victory over Josh Torres (12-2-1) in the welterweight division with scores of 100-90, 98-92, and 98-92.
Ola Afolabi (20-3-4) won the IBO Cruiserweight title over Lukasz Janik (26-1) with scores of 114-114, 117-111, and 115-113.