- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Less than three months ago, middleweight contender Curtis Stevens was wrecked by world titleholder Gennady Golovkin, getting dropped in the second round and punished until the fight was called off in the eighth round.
Stevens, fighting in his hometown of New York, lost virtually every second of the Nov. 2 fight, but he was game to the end and surely gained fans with his gutsy, fan-friendly performance.
So, now begins the comeback, even if it’s a bit quicker than one would have imagined. Stevens is set to take on Patrick Majewski (21-2, 13 KOs) in the season debut of "Fight Night" on Friday night (NBC Sports Net, 10 ET) at Resorts International Casino and Hotel in Atlantic City, N.J.
"He made it clear to us that he wanted to get back in the middleweight title picture as soon as possible,” Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva said of Stevens at Wednesday's final news conference. "This one really should be a brawl."
Stevens (25-4, 18 KOs), 28, said he did not feel as though he was coming back too quickly after such a punishing loss.
"Well, if I wasn't prepared I wouldn't have taken the fight," Stevens said. "I just came off a loss so why would I want to lose again? I trained very hard. I thought a little too much in my first title match. I overthought, so my job is no thinking, just reacting.
"Come Friday, it is my road to redemption. I just have to go in there and not think so much and let my hands go. Friday starts my way back to the top of the elite in the middleweight division."
Majewski, 34, a native of Poland based in Atlantic City, is coming off a lopsided decision loss to Patrick Nielsen in Denmark in September. He is looking at the fight with Stevens as a way to put himself at least on the fringes of the middleweight picture. What better way to do that than by beating a former title challenger who has had a lot of television exposure?
"This is my shot in the middleweight division, to start existing in the middleweight division,” he said. "Curtis Stevens is a known fighter. I'm not yet. To be known I have to pass through him. I am ready to get it on."
In the co-feature, cruiserweight contender Thabiso Mchunu (13-1, 9 KOs), 25, of South Africa, takes on Olanrewaju Durodola (15-1, 14 KOs), 33, a Nigeria native who has fought most of his career in the United States.
The fight will be Mchunu's second in a row in the U.S., a follow-up to his lopsided decision win against former heavyweight contender Eddie Chambers, who had dropped down in weight and was a big favorite, in August.