If next weekend’s clash between Gennady Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs is a battle for Middleweight supremacy, then that makes this weekend’s fight between David Lemieux and Curtis Stevens a battle for Middleweight survival.
The bout pits two of the division’s most appealing also rans that highlights not only the continuously sorry state of the Middleweight division but also has something to be said when it is HBO Boxing’s second show of the year three and a half months in. Though that’s a story for another time, the night does pit two fighters known for their big punching power and sloppy technique.
In regards to where these two stand among the rest of the pack, Lemieux has definitely made a better account of himself after being trounced by Golovkin a few years ago and, as a whole, has been a more impressive fighter than Stevens. The Canadian has shown flashes of fight-stopping power and decent hand speed by beating up and stopping rugged contenders like the perpetually bleeding Gabriel Rosado and Glen Tapia, but has the typical downfall of big punchers in where if you can take what he’s giving you, you’ll probably end up beating him.
Stevens has been less impressive since his beating from Golovkin, plying his trade by beating up the unheralded and unworthy while looking uneven against more capable foes. A questionable stoppage saved him from a loss to Tureano Johnson, he was out boxed and even dropped by the chinniest fighter in the division in Hassan N’Dam and looked painfully one dimensional against trial horse James De la Rosa in his last out.
A declining Stevens needs to put his best foot forward here because Lemieux may be the best and last chance Stevens has to prove he’s more than just a measuring stick and falls behind the pack. We’ve seen Lemieux get grinded down with pressure before and even shut down completely by Golovkin’s jab in their fight, but Stevens often telegraphs his shots and loads up leading to an uneven flow of action.
Lemieux has shown that he’s still capable of handling himself in big fights outside of upsets earlier in his career and Stevens isn’t going to be bringing him a stylistic difficulty that he cannot handle. Though the possibility exists that Stevens might clip him from a counter shot, the more likely scenario is that Lemieux will be the busier of the two men and possibly reserving his own power in fear of said counter.
What we get will be a classic example of two big punching fighters with questionable chins and stamina looking to hug things out instead of testing the other’s resolve. It will be disappointing to see this fight go the distance, especially because Lemieux will be clearly outclassing Stevens throughout the contest, but the Canadian will walk out of the ring with a dull and dominant unanimous decision.