After the eighth round of the bout, Curtis Stevens's corner threw in the towel. Stevens had fought a solid a fight, showed a strong chin, excited his hometown Madison Square Garden crowd with a few thudding hooks that wobbled Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight champion who has now strung together 15 consecutive wins by knockout.
But while Stevens's highlights came sporadically, Golovkin maintained a steady, punishing pace, controlling the fight with his long jab, smooth footwork, and a constant barrage of combinations. Over eight rounds, Golovkin threw nearly 800 punches, landing 293, which was nearly three times as many as Stevens hit. He dropped Stevens with a left hook in the second round. Early in the eighth, he hurt him with a body shot then stung him with three more. By the waning seconds of the round, Stevens was in full retreat, opening up his defensive shell to throw just enough punches to keep the referee from stopping the fight.
Stevens, a Brownsville, Brooklyn, native, had absorbed Golovkin's punches better than any opponent had before. And with Stevens's power, there was always the chance that he could catch Golovkin with a game-changing shot. Yet when the ref walked over to Stevens's corner following the bell, his trainer Andre Rozier didn't hesitate to end it right there. It couldn't have been an easy call, particularly given the stakes, this fight being one that could alter a career's trajectory.
In boxing, though, the stakes go beyond title belts and HBO paydays. That became especially clear 30 minutes after Golovkin raised his hands in victory, when Magomed Abdusalamov, the 32-year-old heavyweight fighter who lost in the night's undercard, told his manager he had a headache. Doctors at Roosevelt Hospital discovered a blood clot. After the brain surgery, they placed Abdusalamov in a medically induced coma. More »