Curtis Stevens vs. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam is an odd pairing. Picture a brutish, hard-punching Brownsville, New York native and a well-schooled boxer from Cameroon by way of France paired against each other in Santa Monica, California on a Wednesday edition of Friday Night Fights. Even odder is that this is officially an IBF middleweight title eliminator and that both Stevens and N’Jikam had to wait their turn behind formerly retired Jermain Taylor for the right to face champion Sam Soliman.
But boxing politics are what they are and the end result of this odd pairing put together under odd circumstances is likely to be a compelling, entertaining middleweight bout.
Stevens (27-4, 20 KOs) has got dynamite in his hands and can usually hurt anyone he can hit. He came up short in his bid to dethrone WBA middleweight titlist, Gennady Golovkin, but gave the buzzsaw defending champ, arguably, the toughest fight of his career thus far. Recent performances from the Brownsville bomber have shown him to be a more mature, more focused fighter in the ring and, at 29, he’s just at the sweet spot of his career where he can take advantage of both physical youth and a decent body of experience.
Of course, Stevens knows his limitations, though, and understands that his success is going to be based on his one-punch power. He plans on making that the decisive, and only, factor in Wednesday’s bout.
“The thing that I have to do against him is cut the ring off,” Stevens recently told Fightnews.com. “N’Dam is going to box and get knocked out, or he will run and get knocked out.”
The 30-year-old N’Jikam, who briefly held the WBO middleweight title until losing it via unanimous decision to Peter Quillin in 2012, may be ripe for the highlight reel KO, depending on what one chooses to believe about his chin.
Dropped six times during his twelve round loss to Quillin, N’Jikam showed incredible resolve in standing tough and winning much of the bout where he wasn’t on the canvas.
Since that bout, the skilled boxer has carried with him the reputation of being “chinny.” However, six of his seven career knockdowns have come against Quillin in that one fight. Does this mean that he was just caught in the right spot and never got his legs fully back under him? Or was he simply feeling the effects of fighting the heaviest-handed opponent of his career and had never received a true “chin check” before?
That question will be answered on October 1.
Stevens plans on doing what he does best and letting fists fly until only one person is left standing. Meanwhile, N’Jikam has a say in whether fans will be talking about a brutal KO or a masterful boxing exhibition the following day.
So, despite the odd pairing and strange setting, Stevens-N’Jikam is really not all that much different from any other “must-win” bout. And “must win” very often translates to “must see” for fight fans.
Curtis Stevens vs. Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam will air live Wednesday, October 1 on ESPN2 at 9PM ET/6PM PT.