The CBZ Newswire

Lemieux Turns Stevens’ Lights Out in Three!

by on Mar.13, 2017, under Boxing News

By “Ice” John Scully

Former Light Heavyweight contender and ex-trainer of ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson

 

David Lemeiux versus Curtis Stevens, 12 rounds on HBO at the Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York is a fight I have personally felt for several years now was the best pure match up to be made at 160 pounds. Titles, money and networks aside, just in terms of the two fighters in the division who matched up the best, this was the middleweight fight I’ve been waiting for.

It exceeded expectations.

The first minor surprise for me came when both guys first actually entered the ring on Saturday. I expected David to have some height advantage, of course, but as they bounced relatively close to each other before the opening introductions, the visual impression was that Lemeiux was a significantly larger framed man. Once the opening bell rang that idea was definitely verified, surprising somewhat when you take into account that not only did Curtis win the United States National ABF Championship as an amateur light heavyweight in 2002 (beating future light heavyweight champ Tavoris Cloud along the way) but he also won several minor junior tournaments as a 15 and 16 year old in the heavyweight (201 pound limit) division.

On this night, though, it looked more like Lemieux was a super middleweight against a middleweight Stevens from where I sat.

Physical size aside, the drama and expectation for a barn burner of a fight was still obviously very much alive for myself and everyone else in attendance. Fearlessness and punching power are two attributes Curtis has been in possession of for as long as I have been watching him box competitively (going back to at least 1997) and if the pre-fight trash talk was any indication, Curtis had definitive plans to put both of those attributes on full display this evening.

David has always been a great puncher himself as well as a guy with somewhat underrated boxing skills. When you punch that hard and score that many KO’s, people often fail to give you proper credit, even when you exhibit better than average boxing skills to go along with punching power.

Going into this match, I still felt like both guys would be intelligently wary of each other’s power early on and that it would take several rounds for the fight to really warm up into becoming the type of match everyone in attendance was expecting.

Luckily for everyone involved, though, neither man took until even the halfway point of the very first round to begin opening up.

Lemieux, at left, lands a punishing left on Stevens (photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO Sports).

Lemieux, at left, lands a punishing left on Stevens (photo by Ed Mulholland/HBO Sports).

 

Round 1

Both guys come out relatively fast, with Curtis immediately launching his famous counter left hooks off of David’s leads. By the halfway point of the round, both guys are letting big shots go. The one thought that keeps popping into my heads throughout the second half of the round was, “No way these two can keep this up for 12 rounds.”

At the bell, everyone in my area of press row gives the round to David and while it wasn’t exactly on the level of a Hagler-Hearns type of first round, it was certainly better than most opening rounds you’re going to see at that level. If they both build off of what they each did in the first three minutes, we could be looking at a definite contender for fight of the year thus far.

 

Round 2

It occurs to me at just around thirty seconds into the round that we are all witnessing a very good professionally fought fight here. Both guys are patiently, but not shyly, mixing eye catching power shots with strong jabs and strategically placed punches — short body shots with both hands, long right hands and counter shots coming from both sides.

David lands a booming shot somewhere in the middle of the round, the best punch of the fight thus far from either guy. David is busier overall, but Curtis looks like a predator with a plan, hands up high, waiting for the opportunity to strike fast and hard. I get the impression he’s just looking for the right moment; he’s trying to build up mental momentum to let it all hang out.

Curtis is dangerous and lands some solid shots, but he’s just not busy enough to take the round.

 

Round 3

The third round is similar to the previous two in that David seems more in control of the action but that Curtis is coiled, waiting to strike big. He’s looking for his go-to shot, the huge counter left hook, all night but just can’t find the spot he’s looking for. He’s working, he gets his share of shots in, but not what is surely to come from him once — if he gets his rhythm.

All of a sudden, BOOM, out of nowhere, it’s David who find a home for the counter left hook!! Beautiful situation and execution, especially when watched again in slow motion. Curtis lauches his own left hook that David catches (blocks) with his right glove, while he counters with a perfectly timed and placed bomb of a hook of his own that lands flush. Curtis, out on impact, falls sideway to the canvas and actually almost rolls out of the ring when he lands. His eyes are completely closed. ┬áHe’s completely motionless.

Knockout of the year thus far, no doubt. No need to count.

In all my years of attending fight,s there are only four times that I can recall where I was genuinely afraid for the well being of a fallen fighter, legitimately fearful that we were witnessing a tragedy unfolding. This is one of those times.

Probably the worst moment from my view is the point when Curtis’ mom literally climbed over the partition that seperates the ringside area from the rest of the arena and she headed straight to the side of the ring where her son lay motionless. She was there for a few moments when she suddenly turned and started walking away from the ring by herself, towards where we were sitting in the press area. She was pretty much expressionless, but you could see the worry in her eyes as she walked aimlessly in our general direction. It was like she had no idea where to turn.

In the entire time Curtis was laying there, that was the one moment where I most wanted him to open his eyes and stand up on his own two feet, under his own power.

Soon afterwards, he did open his eyes and whether he was fully conscious or if he was simply acting out of a human being/fighter’s instincts, I’m not sure, but I stood and watched him as he proceeded to methodically tear both of his gloves off of his hands.

Mark Ramsey trainer of David Lemieux talks to the press after David's knockout victory over Curtis Stevens on Saturday night.

Mark Ramsey trainer of David Lemieux talks to the press after David’s knockout victory over Curtis Stevens on Saturday night.

The paramedics and the stretcher arrived as this was happenin,g and several people around me got extremely anxious as they watched it unfold, but I was pretty sure it was more of a precautionary measure than anything. I hoped so, at least.

You can attend dozens of shows in succession, watching hundreds of professional bouts, and not see anything worse than a badly cut eye or a pretty serious bloody nose. You can watch so many fights without serious incident that you almost find yourself minimizing the threat of serious danger involved. It’s easy to forget what potential is actually there for danger and there’s nothing like this type of knockout to restore that sense of fear and realization that this is not a game.

Whoever said “You don’t play boxing” had it more right than he or she may ever truly realize.

John Scully, seen here at left when he fought and lost a decision against then IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Henry Maske in 1996.

John Scully, seen here at left when he fought and lost a decision against then IBF Light Heavyweight World Champion Henry Maske in 1996.

 

 

“The wait in the dressing room before a professional boxing match -that last hour- could be enough to strip a man who never boxed before of whatever pride, desire and heart he THOUGHT he had”

– Iceman John Scully, April 2002

 

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