Fewer than three months into 2017, boxing has already seen two extremely strong candidates for “Knockout of the Year.” Thank Mikey Garcia for the first one. The latest was courtesy of David Lemieux, as he butchered Curtis Stevens, knocking him cold with a left hook in round 3 of their bout on HBO Boxing After Dark.
The middleweight showdown brought with it a measure of hardcore support as it featured two punchers with noted vulnerabilities, but they had largely been on the outside looking in as both were defeated by middleweight monster Gennady Golovkin.
Lemieux and Stevens livened up a weary crowd at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, N.Y. by throwing bombs early on, as the pre-fight promotion suggested would be the case. Stevens caught the worst of it in the opening round, eating a right hand that made his legs barely give out. The Brownsville, N.Y. native, now 29-6 with 21 knockouts, covered up well and made Lemieux hit mostly glove, but he again found himself rocked and clearly outworked before the round ended.
Stevens appeared to hurt Lemieux to the body in round 2 despite being out-paced the rest of the round, even if the Montreal-based fighter wasn’t chucking with the same kind of power as before. It wasn’t yet clear whether Lemieux was slowing down from throwing too many punches in the 1st round, or because Stevens was getting to him a bit, but we would never truly find out.
In round 3, as it seemed the fight was developing into a competitive firefight, the two men traded hooks. Lemieux’s was worlds better and connected with far more demonic force, and it rendered Stevens totally unconscious for a good handful of minutes. It was a spine-chilling knockout.
Lemieux, whose record improved to 37-3 with 33 knockouts, likely didn’t advance his position in the middleweight division as much as he would have liked. His status as a puncher helps him in the popularity department, but he’s still unlikely to be thrown in with Saul “Canelo” Alvarez or given a rematch with Golovkin anytime soon, barring some unlikely catastrophe.
As always a puncher like Lemieux may be able to salvage wins or stay competitive based on power alone, though it might never be enough to get him to the top. From an entertainment perspective, there’s nothing wrong with that. In his post-fight interview, Lemieux called on fights with BJ Saunders, Alvarez and Golovkin. Of those three, Saunders is clearly the most beatable and that would be the smart play. It simply may not be where the money is.
In the opening bout of the telecast, former titlist Yuriorkis Gamboa brought his record to 26-1 with 17 knockouts by winning a relatively uninspiring unanimous decision over Rene Alvarado. The Cuban was sent to the canvas in the 10th round, though a slip caused it far more than any punch did. Alvarado simply couldn’t reach Gamboa with any sustained, meaningful offense. The Nicaraguan’s record falls to 24-8 with 16 knockouts.
The fight revealed very little about Gamboa because he may have trudged to the same decision win had he not been inactive and possibly rusty. He can be inconsistent inside the ring, and his career has been jarred by inactivity and promotional issues. Gamboa will be 36 soon, and the door will shut on him sooner rather than later.