When Curtis Stevens laced up his gloves and entered the squared circle inside the brand new T-Mobile Arena last May, he desperately needed a win. His last outing resulted in a loss to Hassan NDam almost two years prior, and this time he was placed on a bigger stage – the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan.
Stevens delivered a crushing second-round knockout of Brazilian Patrick Teixeira to not only win the vacant WBC Continental Americas middleweight title, but to also revitalize his name. He then followed that up up with a unanimous decision win over James de la Rosa on the undercard of Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev in November, effectively re-introducing himself into the conversation for larger title contention.
Enter former IBF welterweight champion, David Lemieux. He too fought on the Canelo vs. Khan undercard and needed to rebound from a major bump in the road. The following year, Lemieux had his first pay-per-view main event appearance on the biggest stage in boxing, Madison Square Garden, against Gennady GGG Golovkin. A dominating barrage of jabs from GGG lead to an eventual eighth-round knockout, spoiling Lemieuxs plans and sending him back to the drawing board with the loss of his belt.
However, like Stevens, Lemieux rebounded and scored a fourth-round knockout over Glen Tapia to win the vacant WBO-NABO middleweight title, setting the stage for his re-emergence. After a unanimous decision over Christian Rios last October, boxing started talking about Lemieux yet again.
The two fighters, who both share knockout losses to middleweight juggernaut Golovkin, now meet for the first time tonight. With everything on the line, expect it to be an all out war.
During a recent media conference call, things got heated between the two with Stevens accusing Lemieux of talking trash in the media and not to his face. The back and forth banter resulted in Lemieux promising to knock Stevens out and Stevens dismissing the prediction with his Brooklyn laissez-faire confidence.
The matchup has the makings of fireworks and with the winner of Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and Golovkin vs. Jacobs still out there, the middleweight division is definitely heating up.
Catch all the action live from Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, NY, Saturday on HBO Boxing After Dark at 11:00pm EST / 8:00pm PST.