Dan Rafael: Curtis Stevens

The ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” season ends on Aug. 22, but there will be more boxing on the network in the fall.

ESPN2 is in the process of finalizing plans to carry a Wednesday night boxing special on Oct. 1 (9 p.m. ET) from the Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, California. The card will be headlined by the middleweight title elimination bout between Curtis Stevens and Hassan N’Dam, a fight with great potential to be action-packed.

The winner of the fight will become the mandatory challenger for 160-pound titleholder Sam Soliman (44-11, 18 KOs) of Australia, who won a belt via unanimous decision against Felix Sturm on May 31 in Germany.

The Oct. 1 card will be the first televised card put on by promoter Michael King. The undercard is still being worked on.

King, who promotes former titleholder N’Dam, won the rights to Stevens-N’Dam at a purse bid earlier this month, outbidding Stevens promoter Main Events $80,000 to $62,000 in a bit of a surprise.

N’Dam (30-1, 18 KOs), 30, of France, has won three fights in a row since losing a decision in a world title fight to Peter Quillin in 2012.

Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs), 29, of Brooklyn, New York, has won two fights in a row by knockout since being stopped in the eighth round challenging titleholder Gennady Golovkin in November.

Notes: Stevens-N'Dam in works

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
A few notes from the boxing world:

• Middleweight contenders Curtis Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York, and France's Hassan N'Dam (30-1, 18 KOs), a former titlist, are close to a deal that will see them meet in a title eliminator in the return of boxing to NBC on Sept. 20 at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Connecticut. The winner of the fight -- which has good potential to be action-packed -- will become the mandatory challenger for newly-crowned titleholder Sam Soliman of Australia. N'Dam has won three fights in a row since losing a decision in a world title fight to Peter Quillin in 2012. Stevens has won two fights in a row since being stopped in the eight round challenging titleholder Gennady Golovkin in November.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Stevens
Larry Levanti/Main EventsCurtis Stevens, fresh off a win over Tureano Johnson, is close to a deal to face Hassan N'Dam.
• Cruiserweight titlist Yoan Pablo Hernandez (28-1, 14 KOs), the German-based Cuban defector who has been out since November, will make his fourth defense on Aug. 16 in Erfurt, Germany. According to promoter Sauerland Event, Hernandez will face former titleholder Firat Arslan (34-7-2, 21 KOs) of Germany. Sauerland is waiting for the final approval of the match from the IBF. In January, Arslan was stopped in the sixth round of his rematch with titleholder Marco Huck but bounced back for a low-level win on June 7. Hernandez was supposed to fight Pawel Kolodziej on March 8, but the fight was postponed to March 29 and then canceled altogether because Hernandez was suffering from gastritis (a stomach lining infection) and unable to train.

• Welterweight prospect Jose Benavidez (20-0, 14 KOs), a star amateur who has disappointed Top Rank with some uneven performances as a pro, not to mention fighting just once in 2013, will fight for the third time this year on July 26 when he headlines a UniMas-televised card in his hometown of Phoenix. He has no opponent yet for his scheduled eight-rounder. Top Rank also announced that junior lightweight blue chip prospect Oscar Valdez (11-0, 11 KOs), the two-time Mexican Olympian, will fight in the co-feature, an eight-rounder against an opponent to be determined.

• Golden Boy announced that its card on July 18 (Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes) at the Longshoreman's Hall in San Francisco will be headlined by former lightweight title challenger Mercito Gesta (27-1-1, 15 KOs) of the Philippines, who will take on Luis Arceo (28-12-4, 19 KOs) in the 10-round main event. In the junior welterweight co-feature, Jonathan Chicas (13-1, 6 KOs) of San Francisco will face Emanuel Robles (10-0-1, 3 KOs). Also on the card is Chinese heavyweight Taishan (yes, he goes by one name and is nearly 7-foot), who will make his pro debut in a four-rounder.

Quillin caught up in cold war

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
Peter QuillinGeoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsWithout impressing fight fans, Peter Quillin, right, won an unanimous decision against Lukas Konecky.
WASHINGTON -- Since “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin won his middleweight world title in October 2012, dropping Hassan N’Dam six times and winning a decision in an exciting fight, his opponents in three defenses have not exactly inspired much excitement.

Quillin has won the fights easily, by knockout against Fernando Guerrero and Gabriel Rosado and a near-shutout decision against outclassed Lukas Konecny in a tedious fight that drew heavy booing from the crowd Saturday night at the DC Armory.

If there is any fighter who is a clear victim of the frigid political landscape in boxing with HBO having banished Golden Boy Promotions and Al Haymon fighters from the network, it’s Quillin, who is on Showtime, which has almost nobody of significance for him to fight barring Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Canelo Alvarez perhaps looking to move up to middleweight to challenge for his title.

Meanwhile, HBO has contracts with middleweight champion Sergio Martinez and fellow titleholder Gennady Golovkin, the two best fighters in the division.

Those two are clearly the most interesting potential opponents for Quillin, but when sitting down with reporters at ringside after the card Saturday night, he said he would not let the lack of those fights get to him.

“Golden Boy will try to get whatever opponent they can for me," Quillin said. "I’m an American champion. A lot of those other guys, they come to our country to fight over here to fight in our homeland, and I’ve always said I was hoping to fight Sergio Martinez, Gennady Golovkin, all these different guys, but it’s not really my fault, the political thing going on. All I have to do is keeping doing me.

“We over here on this network [Showtime] looking for guys for me. I got 31 professional fights. At this point, I can’t worry about who I am gonna fight. I only worry about staying ready and being in shape. I’m gonna take one week off, and then I’ll be back in the gym.”

Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer said he is open to making a fight with any of the top guys, even if it means having Quillin on HBO, where he appeared before the network kicked Golden Boy to the curb.

“If Golovkin wants to have a fight with Peter, then what they should do is that they should make us an offer,” Schaefer said. “That would be a start.”

With Martinez scheduled to fight Miguel Cotto on June 7 and Golovkin seemingly headed for a July showdown with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. at super middleweight (as long as Chavez can iron out his deal with Top Rank, which has been difficult), that leaves Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs) with few choices.

The most probable opponent is Golden Boy and Haymon stablemate Daniel Jacobs, 27, who lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., as does the 30-year-old Quillin.

“Danny would like the fight, the Barclays Center would like the fight, and Peter is the kind of guy who fights anyone as long he gets properly compensated and it’s a challenge,” Schaefer said. “That’s definitely a possibility. But if [K2 Promotions and HBO] want to do a fight with Golovkin, let’s do it.”

Jacobs (27-1, 24 KOs) was ringside for Quillin’s fight Saturday. He called it while filling in for regular Showtime analyst Paulie Malignaggi, who was on the card getting knocked out by welterweight titlist Shawn Porter.

“If it's Danny Jacobs and they want to make a fight right there in Brooklyn, well, I live right up the street from the Barclays Center,” Quillin said. “It won't take me long to get there. I'll drive my Corvette and drop the top on it when I go.

“I think Danny is special. Danny had his shot to glory when he fought for the same belt [I have] against Dmitry Pirog [in 2010], and Danny had his time to shine. Now it’s my time to shine. The spotlight is on me. My job is not worry about the guy who is trying to get that spotlight.”

Jacobs was a big favorite against Pirog but got knocked out in the fifth round in their bout for the vacant belt that Quillin eventually won against N’Dam.

Quillin suggested that Jacobs doesn’t deserve the shot at him and should fight Curtis Stevens, another Brooklyn middleweight contender, for the right to get the title shot.

Either way, Quillin’s dance card looks to be a bit barren for the time being.
It’s a pretty good bet that even the most hardcore boxing fan had not heard of middleweight Tureano Johnson before his fantastic fight with contender Curtis Stevens on Friday night at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.

Johnson (14-1, 10 KOs) was stepping up in competition to face his first quality opponent and he and Stevens put on an blazing fight, one that Johnson mostly dominated until Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs), who is a terrific puncher, rallied to stop Johnson in the 10th and final round.

Johnson was ahead on all three scorecards -- 89-82, 89-92 and 87-84 -- when Stevens ultimately got the comeback TKO victory with 51 seconds left. It was, however, a bit of a quick stoppage by referee Gary Rosato and left Johnson immediately protesting the call in the ring.

“It was unfortunate that I didn't get the win. Curtis Stevens is a great fighter,” Johnson said later. “The stoppage was an unfair one but I accept it. I worked hard and I won every round. I worked hard for this. I want a rematch immediately."

If this fight doesn’t have rematch written all over it what does?

"I wanted to come out tonight and give the fans an all-action war,” Johnson said. “My game plan was to come right at Stevens and bring the fight to him. I did exactly what I wanted to do and I was winning the fight convincingly.

“I have a great chin. When he landed that left hook in the final round, I was rocked, but I was ready to continue. I was robbed by the referee and the fans should rally behind me to command an instant rematch. My message to Curtis Stevens is you better not run from the rematch, because if you do, the fans will know you're a fraud."

Stevens, while not committing to a rematch, knew he did not fight at his best.

“I didn't set it up the way I was supposed to set it up,” he said. “He was smothering me. He did what he was supposed to do. He came in here and smothered me."

Johnson’s next fight may come July 11 on promoter Gary Shaw’s ESPN2 “Friday Night Fights” card, but Shaw also wants to make an eventual rematch.

"I'm outraged that my fighter, Tureano Johnson, was robbed of his ability to finish the fight,” Shaw said. “Johnson clearly could have continued on. Stevens is nothing. Johnson was winning every round. I'm going to protest this premature stoppage and demand an immediate rematch. To rob a fighter like Johnson got robbed is preposterous. With what Johnson gave the fans, he should have at least been able to finish the fight. I'm beside myself with this decision."

Shaw’s protest will go nowhere and he is laying it on a bit thick but a rematch is possible.

“Johnson, your stock just went way up,” said Main Events chief executive Kathy Duva, who promotes Stevens. “I would love to schedule a rematch on HBO.”

Curtis Stevens staying active

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
Middleweight banger Curtis Stevens quickly put his one-sided eighth-round knockout to Gennady Golovkin in their world title bout in November behind him.

Stevens returned from that loss quickly as he crushed Patrick Majewski, dropping him three times in 46 seconds for a first-round knockout on Jan. 24.

Less than three months later, Stevens (26-4, 19 KOs) will be back again for his second fight since the loss to Golovkin when he faces Tureano Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs) on April 4 (NBC Sports Net) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia. It is the co-feature of the heavyweight main event between Steve Cunningham (26-6-0, 12 KOs) and Amir Mansour (20-0-0, 15 KOs).

Stevens, who turned 29 on March 10, is planning for a busy year.

"This is my life and my job,” the New Yorker said. “I like to fight and I don't want to have a break too long. I could get a little bit too relaxed. Hopefully, I can go six times this year."

He was 3-1 with two knockouts in 2013 and kicked off 2014 nicely with the smashing knockout of Majewski.

"I am back to the old Curtis,” he said. “It looks like [Johnson] likes to fight. He likes to stay in the paint, in the dog house and get it on. He looks like a more aggressive Derrick Findley [a 2013 opponent] so this fight I might just stay toe-to-toe."

Johnson, 30, a native of the Bahamas, doesn’t have a lot of experience and has never faced a name opponent, but in his last fight on Feb. 22, he won an eight-round shutout decision against previously undefeated Willie Fortune. The fight with Stevens will be Johnson’s first scheduled 10-rounder. He plans on making a splash.

“On April 4, the world will be introduced to Tureano Johnson. This has been a long, hard road for me filled with blood, sweat and ruthless determination,” he said. “I have been begging for this opportunity to pit my skills against the so-called best in my division. However, it is easier said than done in this world of boxing. No one would fight me until now. I respect Curtis Stevens. He is a strong, hard-punching fighter who has been in with the best. But he can't and won't beat me.”

“I'm sure it is going to be a throwback fight. It has been said that I'm not the most technical fighter out there. Well it's true. I like to mix it up, throw hard punches, and get a little barbaric in the ring. I'm coming to fight, win impressive, and after April 4, I know I will get the fights I deserve."

Also on the card in a six-rounder will be light heavyweight Mike Lee, the Notre Dame graduate who got a big push from Top Rank after turning pro in 2010. Top Rank later released Lee (11-0, 6 KOs), who has not fought since September 2012. Chicago’s Lee will face Michael Sawyer (3-3, 2 KOs) of Culpeper, Va.

Stevens to put GGG loss behind

January, 23, 2014
Jan 23
Gennady Golovkin and Curtis StevensAl Bello/Getty ImagesCurtis Stevens, left, is set to get back into the ring following his stoppage defeat to Gennady Golovkin.

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.

No U.S. TV for GGG's Feb. 1 fight

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
Gennady Golovkin and Curtis StevensJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsWith Gennady Golovkin not fighting April 26 following the death of his father, the card was canceled.
Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin was boxing’s breakout star of 2013.

The new darling of HBO’s boxing franchise drew 1.41 million viewers for his Nov. 2 destruction of Curtis Stevens. That was the third-most viewed fight on HBO -- and on all of premium cable -- for the year, trailing only HBO fights involving established stars Miguel Cotto and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., and represented yet another increase in Golovkin’s viewership numbers.

But with Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs) wanting to maintain a busy schedule -- he fought four times last year and hoped to do the same again this year -- K2 promoter Tom Loeffler made a deal for him to fight Osumanu Adama on a Feb. 1 card being put on by South African promoter Rodney Berman in Monte Carlo without HBO’s involvement. It was a similar deal to what Golovkin did last year, when one of his fights was on a Berman card at the same Monte Carlo casino against Nobuhiro Ishida. That fight was on a small American pay-per-view.

But HBO now holds exclusive North American television rights to Golovkin’s fights and initially could not accommodate him in its Feb. 1 schedule, not to mention the network was not too thrilled with Adama (22-3, 16 KOs) as the opponent, even though Adama is a noted tough guy who has never been stopped and gave then-titleholder Daniel Geale a very good fight in 2012.

HBO eventually made the right decision -- perhaps it heard the outcry from fans and media -- and changed its mind, deciding to try to work things out to televise the fight. It made sense since GGG is one of the most exciting fighters in boxing and as hot with the public as they come.

So the plan for the lower-budget fight was for HBO to televise it in the afternoon on its HBO2 channel. The network even planned to send its crew and announcers ringside to Monte Carlo. For weeks, they worked on the logistics. But on Tuesday everyone involved finally realized it was not going to work and pulled the plug.

As ridiculous as it sounds, Golovkin’s fight will not have American television coverage unless something changes drastically in the next two weeks.

“After extensive collective efforts, logistics to produce the fight from Monte Carlo could not be resolved,” HBO said in a statement given to ESPN.com. “We have tried for the past month to find a way to televise Gennady Golovkin vs. Osumanu Adama on Feb. 1 from Monte Carlo.

“Unfortunately, the venue could not accommodate our production needs. We spent weeks looking at creative ways to produce a telecast for the HBO2 service from Monte Carlo and it simply could not get resolved. We are grateful for all the assistance from Tom Loeffler and K2 in trying to get us accommodated.”

The casino seats only 900 and its small size could not handle another broadcast position inside the room and that was a huge issue, according to HBO. The casino could not even accommodate an HBO production truck in order to do the transmission of the event.

If Golovkin wins, he is due back on HBO on April 26 from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, where he fought two of his fights last year. But if you want to watch the Feb. 1 fight you’ll unfortunately have to hunt for a stream on the Internet.

Quick return for Curtis Stevens

November, 29, 2013
Gennady Golovkin and Curtis StevensAl Bello/Getty ImagesCurtis Stevens, left, is set to get back into the ring following his stoppage defeat to Gennady Golovkin.
Middleweight contender Curtis Stevens is not going to sit around and mope after getting stopped in a courageous effort against titleholder Gennady Golovkin on Nov. 2.

Stevens (25-4, 18 KOs) got stopped in the eighth round of a one-sided fight challenging for the belt, but he showed enormous heart in a crowd-pleasing fight. Instead of a long layoff, Stevens is getting back into the ring as quickly as possible. He will return to headline a card on Jan. 24 (NBC Sports Net) against an opponent to be determined, Main Events matchmaker Jolene Mizzone told ESPN.com.

The native of Brooklyn, N.Y., 28, had won four fights in a row, including three by crushing first-round knockout, heading into the showdown with Golovkin at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Golovkin showing star power

November, 6, 2013

Middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin is blossoming from cult status to mainstream boxing star in front of our eyes, if his fight Saturday night was any indication.

Golovkin stormed past Curtis Stevens to retain his title for the ninth time with a stellar performance in the eighth-round knockout victory -- his 15th KO in a row -- and people clearly liked what they saw, based on the viewership figures for the HBO-televised bout from the Theater at Madison Square Garden.

The broadcast attracted 1.410 million viewers (and peaked at 1.566 million), according to Nielsen Media Research. That is a 29 percent increase over Golovkin’s previous bout on June 29, also on HBO, which drew 1.097 million viewers.

The victory against Stevens ranks as the third-most watched cable fight of 2013, all three of which were HBO fights. Golovkin-Stevens trails only fights involving far more recognizable stars -- Miguel Cotto’s third-round knockout of Delvin Rodriguez on Oct. 5 had an average audience of 1.555 million viewers, and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.’s controversial decision win against Bryan Vera on Sept. 28 drew 1.416 million viewers.

Golovkin is due to return Feb. 1 against an opponent to be determined in Monte Carlo. Even though K2 Promotions’ Tom Loeffler, Golovkin’s promoter, and HBO do not have a deal for the fight at this point, it would seem that based on Golovkin’s rocketing star, the network would (and should) make an effort to show his next fight. There are few fighters in boxing today more exciting and dominating than Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs).

Officials set for Golovkin-Stevens

October, 31, 2013
The New York State Athletic Commission has assigned the officials for the card Saturday night (HBO, 10 ET/PT) at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

When middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) squares off with Curtis Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs) in the main event, the third man in the ring will be referee Harvey Dock of New York. The judges will be Michael Pernick of Florida, Max DeLuca of California and New Jersey's John Poturaj. All are experienced officials.

In the heavyweight co-feature between Magomed Abdusalamov (18-0, 18 KOs) and Mike Perez (19-0, 12 KOs), the referee will be Benjy Esteves. Judges for the fight will be Julie Lederman, John Stewart and Don Trella.

In another notable bout -- although not part of HBO's telecast -- cruiserweight contender Ola Afolabi (19-3-4, 9 KOs) will face Lukasz Janik (26-1, 14 KOs). The referee will be Earl Brown, with Waleska Roldan, Jerry Roth and Joseph Pasquale making up the judging panel.

According to the commission, Golovkin’s purse is $400,000, Stevens gets $290,000, Adusalamov $40,000, Perez $30,000 and Afolabi and Janik get $20,000 apiece.

Golovkin-Stevens all but signed

August, 19, 2013
Perhaps the contracts aren't signed just yet, but take this to the bank: Middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin's next defense, scheduled for Nov. 2 on HBO from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, is going to be against contender Curtis Stevens of Brooklyn. Expect an announcement soon.

This is exactly as many anticipated, despite the tough talk and rhetoric that came from both sides as they haggled over the money. In the end, they both are realizing what was obvious: They need each other.

Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) wants to fight in New York, so when there was no other legitimate opponent to face on that date besides Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), who happens to be from New York, it made all the sense in the world. Stevens, who has been calling out Golovkin, wants a title shot -- and this one was sitting right in front of him. Besides, the fighters' camps told me days ago that they weren't that far apart on the money.

So sanity seems to have prevailed (not always the case in boxing) and I'm told they have reached a deal. Main Events, Stevens' promoter, is waiting for the contracts to sign from K2 Promotions, Golovkin's promoter. But, as the two sides should, they are holding off making any formal announcement.

Here is what the sides are saying publicly:

"It looks good, but it's not signed yet, so we can't officially announce anything until we have a signed deal," said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions.

"We are close and are working on the contracts," Main Events' Kathy Duva said. "Until something is signed, we will not make any announcements."

Golovkin-Stevens is an interesting fight between two big punchers in one of boxing's hottest divisions, which produced a tremendous fight on Saturday night when England's Darren Barker took a split decision against Daniel Geale to win a belt in Atlantic City, N.J.

Golovkin, Stevens camps wrangle

August, 12, 2013
This is the making-the-sausage part of boxing -- that time during fight negotiations when things get a bit gross even though the fight is one that everyone knows is the right one at the right time in the right place, but the sides have to posture and battle for every dime before (probably) making a deal.

[+] EnlargeCurtis Stevens
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)Curtis Stevens has been aiming for a Gennady Golovkin fight, but now the fighters' camps are playing coy with each other as negotiations have begun.
That's where we're at right now in the saga of the proposed fight between middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens. Golovkin, in the real world, doesn't have many viable options. Stevens is the one logical, sensible, makeable, marketable one.

The Golovkin side wants to make the fight. Stevens himself has been calling out GGG since before his first-round demolition of Saul Roman on Aug. 3. The fight is also approved by HBO, which has made Golovkin a franchise fighter and has plans to air his next bout Nov. 2 from the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Stevens, a New Yorker who makes a lot of sense from a gate perspective, has been scoring some nice knockouts (albeit not against top opposition) and can sure talk up a fight. And it's not like there are 10 guys for Golovkin to pick from. As I said, in the real world -- not fantasy boxing, where people might say, 'Golovkin should fight Sergio Martinez' -- Stevens is obviously the guy who fits the bill best for November. And so the sides dance.

Neither side disputes that Golovkin's camp made an offer to Stevens' camp (in the neighborhood of about $300,000, from what I hear). As it should, Main Events, Stevens' promoter, turned down that initial offer. That's what you do when you negotiate. The first offer, especially in boxing, is not the real offer.

Main Events boss Kathy Duva explained her side to me Saturday: "In a nutshell, an offer was made and I asked for the weekend to consider it. I was told [Saturday] afternoon that the Golovkin fight has been offered to [former titlist Hassan] N'Dam for the same money that was offered for Curtis, and that N'Dam has graciously accepted. This turn of events leaves me even more convinced that my asking price for Stevens is correct.

"After all, in New York City, an articulate, American, one-punch KO artist from Brooklyn, who is exciting to watch, talks trash, has created tremendous buzz coming off a spectacular nationally televised KO win, has won three fights that were viewed by a cumulative audience of over 5 million people in the U.S. since January, and who has an actual chance to beat Golovkin, is objectively worth more than a non-English speaking Frenchman who was last seen in Brooklyn being knocked down seven times.

"It is called 'marketability.' Stevens has it. N'Dam does not. If HBO doesn't think Stevens is worth more than N'Dam, then so be it. Curtis can keep building his name and gaining experience on NBC for the time being. Of course Stevens is calling Golovkin out, and of course he would love to fight on Nov. 2. However, it is my job to build value and make Curtis into something more than an 'opponent.' If [Golovkin promoter] K2 and HBO want to make another appearance fight for Golovkin, that is their right. If that is the case, they should definitely go with N'Dam."

Actually, N'Dam, who hasn't yet been approved by HBO from what I understand, was dropped six times (but who's counting, right?) when he lost his belt by decision to "Kid Chocolate" Peter Quillin in October.
But as in any juicy negotiation, there seems to be misinformation being spread around -- well, depending on whom you believe.

"We are speaking with HBO and looking for the best available opponent that will get in the ring with GGG," said Tom Loeffler of K2 Promotions. "Stevens doesn't seem as excited to fight GGG as he was before his last fight, [but] we have not made an offer to N'Dam. I think he is a viable opponent, but have not made an offer to him yet."

"Yet," perhaps, being the operative word. Loeffler also said that he got an email from Sam Soliman's team saying they would be interested in taking a fight with Golovkin. That's not a fight HBO is likely to approve given Soliman's less-than-fan-friendly style, but the more names Loeffler dumps into the mix, the more he figures he can leverage Main Events to drop its price so that Stevens isn't aced out of the fight.

But Duva is a great poker player after thirty-something years in the boxing business.

"We have a plan for Curtis. We will deviate from that plan for a price. But we will not deviate from that plan for the same money that it takes to get N'Dam," said Duva, adding that she, K2 and HBO "are not miles apart" in their figures.

Duva said if the fight with Golovkin isn't made that Stevens will fight on NBC in November or December. My feeling is that, when the sausage ultimately gets made, we'll have a tasty GGG-Stevens fight Nov. 2.

Golovkin return in the works

July, 29, 2013
Gennady Golovkin and Matthew MacklinWill Hart/K2 PromotionsGennady Golovkin, right, likely won't return as soon as expected but should stay busy through 2013.
Right after middleweight titlist Gennady Golovkin put away Matthew Macklin on June 29 with a brutal third-round body shot to record his third knockout victory of a very busy first half of 2013, GGG and his team talked about fighting at least twice more this year.

K2 promoter Tom Loeffler said Golovkin could be back perhaps as soon as August or September, but at this point Golovkin won't return that quickly. Loeffler told ESPN.com recently, however, that the general plan for the rest of 2013 hasn't changed.

"GGG definitely wants to fight two more times before year's end," Loeffler said, adding that he is discussing a Nov. 2 date with HBO. Beyond that fight, Loeffler said they would try to work in one more title defense before year's end.

Loeffler said he is waiting for HBO to approve the date, and if Golovkin fights on that date the fight would take place at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. Loeffler is also discussing opponents, which is a harder issue to deal with than a date.

"Opponents are up in the air, but we definitely want to try to get the best fights for him," Loeffler said.

One opponent Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) has his eye on is England's Martin Murray, who lost a very close fight to champion Sergio Martinez on April 27 in Martinez's Argentina homecoming fight. In another venue, perhaps Murray would have gotten the nod. But don't count on Murray being GGG's next opponent.

"Unfortunately, it looks like Murray is not interested even if it is outside the U.S.," Loeffler said, noting that, because of a past criminal background, Murray hasn't been able to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

The other name on the short list is Curtis Stevens (24-3, 17 KOs), who makes a lot of sense for the fall in New York. First off, Stevens is from Brooklyn. Second, he has a fight set for Saturday, so the schedule lines up rather nicely with Golovkin's.

"I think the fighter is interested, but I think [Main Events chief executive] Kathy [Duva] is hesitant," Loeffler said. "But Stevens is very vocal about [wanting to fight] GGG now. I do know that Curtis Stevens has been calling out GGG. Just don't know if his promoter wants that fight."

Stevens has scored three knockouts in a row since losing at super middleweight and dropping down in weight. He will face Saul Roman (37-9, 31 KOs) at the Mohegan Sun resort in Uncasville, Conn., on Saturday night (NBC Sports Net).

On a conference call last week, Duva alluded to a possible fight with Golovkin.

"Curtis is fabulous because he will absolutely fight anyone at all," Duva said. "So our job as promoters is to build him to the point where, when that title opportunity comes, he will be well compensated for it."

Stevens signs with Main Events

February, 25, 2013
Middleweight Curtis Stevens, an explosive puncher, has signed with promoter Main Events, the New Jersey-based company announced Monday.

"Everybody on your team isn't always in your corner, but now I'm signed to Main Events and I have a great team in my corner," Stevens said. "I had two years off and now I'm back. Now I'm going to take over the middleweight division."

Stevens (23-3, 17 KOs), who is from Brooklyn, N.Y., was once a fast-rising super middleweight prospect who never quite made it. He lost some fights, including a bad one to Jesse Brinkley in 2010 in a title eliminator that he was heavily favored to win. Then Stevens went idle for 22 months, scored an easy win in his return and was off for 10 more months while ironing out promotional problems.

But when Stevens fought for Main Events as a free agent in January, he was very impressive in a brutal first-round knockout of the credible Elvin Ayala at middleweight, a weight class for which Stevens is probably better suited than super middleweight.

Main Events was impressed enough with the knockout of Ayala to sign Stevens, and it plans to continue featuring him on its NBC Sports Net series, "Fight Night," in hopes of eventually steering him into a world title opportunity.

"Curtis has the potential to go all the way," Main Events CEO Kathy Duva said. "He has power, skills and miles of personality."

Adonis Stevenson sitting pretty

February, 5, 2013
StevensonRichard Wolowicz/Getty ImagesAdonis Stevenson could finally get a chance to fight for a super middleweight title in June.

Before super middleweight titleholders Carl Froch and Mikkel Kessler could finalize that their much-anticipated rematch would be a unification bout for the sanctioning organization belts they each hold, Adonis Stevenson was in the way.

Stevenson (19-1, 16 KOs), the humongous puncher from Quebec, is the mandatory challenger for the IBF version of the title that Froch holds and the fight was due no later than April 27. Stevenson won an official title eliminator in October by stopping Donovan George in the 12th round.

However, after much wheeling and dealing -- and who really knows what went on behind the scenes -- Yvon Michel (Stevenson’s promoter), the Froch and Kessler camps and the IBF worked out an agreement that will allow Kessler-Froch II to take place as a unification fight May 25 in London.

However, and it’s a big however: While Kessler-Froch II will be allowed to go forward as a unification match, the winner will vacate the IBF belt after the fight, so it’s a hollow unification bout. And then Stevenson will fight the IBF’s leading available contender for the vacant title in June. Even if Kessler-Froch II is postponed, cancelled or ruled a draw, Froch has agreed to vacate to allow Stevenson to fight for the belt, according to Michel.

“The unification was a must for Froch-Kessler for British TV and for the prestige of their encounter,” Michel told ESPN.com. “We also were in accord that this fight was great for the super middleweight division and for boxing. Their target date was May 25 to optimize the promotion and maximize the revenues. The IBF had ordered the fight to be done by April 27 and the winner had to confirm his intention of fighting the IBF mandatory contender (Stevenson) next. We knew the winner had no real intention of fighting Stevenson for now. Since the IBF does not allow interim titles (except in the case of injury) we had to find a solution to please everybody within the IBF rules.

“We proposed to the IBF to grant the unification fight on May 25. In return, Froch and Kessler have confirmed they will vacate the IBF title immediately after the unification title fight. Everybody is happy.”

So Stevenson will get his title shot but doesn’t want to sit and wait until June. So Michel has set up a fight for him -- a rematch with journeyman Darnell Boone (19-20-3, 8 KOs) on March 22 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Boone has a horrendous record, but the fight still figures to generate some interest because Boone pulled a huge upset by knocking Stevenson out in the second round in April 2010.

Stevenson has won six fights in a row since the loss and might as well take this window he has to gain revenge before his title shot. Boone has fought everyone -- Stevenson, Andre Ward, Enrique Ornelas, Jean Pascal, Curtis Stevens, Brian Vera, Erislandy Lara, Sergey Kovalev (twice), Edwin Rodriguez, among them. He’s a professional opponent (with three losses in a row and losses in five of his last seven fights) but he has one knockout of Stevenson, so maybe, just maybe, he can do it again (even though it’s probably doubtful).

Michel re-signed Stevenson to a promotional contract in 2011 after they had a brief split. Since Stevenson re-signed, Michel said, “He has asked me one big favor -- to eventually provide him the opportunity to avenge his only loss against Darnell Boone. The timing was never good before and since I believe he will be world champion by June, the timing will be bad also after. So we have contacted Darnell Boone, who has agreed to give a rematch to Stevenson.

“Stevenson will carefully prepare for the fight and will move to Detroit next week with (trainer) Javan Hill to hold his training camp. We all know this is a risk because if he loses the fight he would be out as mandatory contender, but we believe it is a calculated risk and we are in a business of perpetual risks.”