For the second time in his last three fights, the Brooklyn middleweight scored a first-round knockout on the NBC Sports Network’s Fight Night Series at Mohegan Sun – the first of three nationally-televised bouts – this time flattening Mexican challenger Saul Roman at the two-minute, 26-second mark of the opening round to capture the vacant North American Boxing Federation (NABF) title in the main event of Saturday’s “Three To See” card, co-promoted by Main Events and Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports.
Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), a notorious fast starter dubbed “the most explosive middleweight in boxing,” dropped Roman (37-10) early in the opening round with a left hook similar to the one that finished Connecticut’s Elvin Ayala in the first round of their nationally-televised showdown in January, also at Mohegan Sun. Roman made it to his feet and tried valiantly to fight his way off the ropes, but Stevens caught him again with his signature left hook, leaving Roman momentarily unconscious on the canvas and sending Stevens back to New York with another dynamite win.
“I knew he loved to come forward and loved to fight,” Stevens said. “I came out a little slower than usual and tried to set up the jab, but the left hook took over. Saul’s a strong competitor, but that was perfect timing for my finisher.”
Asked if he’d campaign for a showdown against unbeaten World Boxing Association (WBA) middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, who’s been rumored to be on Stevens’ radar, Stevens wouldn’t take the bait, instead promising to “train and do what I have to do to take over the middleweight division.”
Golovkin recently ran his record to 27-0 in June with a knockout win over Matthew Macklin.
“Gennady scored an excellent knockout, and he’s a great fighter,” Stevens said, “but he fought a scared fighter.”
In the co-feature, Polish heavyweight Tomasz Adamek (49-2), now fighting out of Jersey City, inched closer to a possible showdown against a top-ranked heavyweight following a methodical, 98-92, 99-91, 99-91 unanimous-decision win over Hot Springs, Ark., veteran Dominic Guinn (34-10-1).
Replacing hometown favorite Tony Grano of Hartford, who was forced to withdraw two weeks ago due to a neck injury, Guinn proved to be a worthy adversary, durable enough to withstand Adamek’s assault and savvy enough to land enough clean shots of his own to at least keep Adamek on his toes.
Guinn entered Saturday having never been stopped in 44 professional bouts, and he kept that streak intact, but Adamek outworked him from the opening bell, at times literally boxing circles around his slower, heavier opponent. Guinn came alive in the seventh, landing a hard right hook followed by a left uppercut that momentarily stunned Adamek, but the Polish heavyweight finished the round strong and applied even more pressure in the ninth and 10th rounds to put an exclamation point on his fifth consecutive win.
“I was fresh tonight,” said Adamek, who fought for the first time in eight months after fighting four times in 2012.
Adamek’s ultimate goal is to earn another shot at a heavyweight world title after getting stopped by World Boxing Council (WBC) champion Vitali Klitschko in September of 2011 in his first attempt sine moving up from the cruiserweight division. Since then, Adamek has scored impressive wins over Travis Walker and Steve Cunningham, among others, to climb back into contention.
Asked if he’d fare better in a second world-title bout, Adamek said, “I’m sure. Last time, I was [messed up]. I proved tonight I’m fresh and I’m ready for a rematch.”
In the first of three televised bouts, South African cruiserweight Thabiso Mchunu (14-1) made an impressive debut on U.S. soil, dominating former heavyweight world-title challenger Eddie Chambers (36-4) of Philadelphia in a 97-93, 99-91, 99-91 unanimous-decision win. The shorter, muscular Mchunu, put on a boxing and footwork clinic against the surprisingly slow Chambers, picking his spots and using an effective right jab, overhand left combo to continuously stop Chambers dead in his tracks.
“Eddie is a very, very good fighter,” said Mchunu, who fought outside of his native South Africa for the first time Saturday, “but I knew he wasn’t faster than me and wasn’t stronger than me.”
Chambers, fighting in the cruiserweight division for the first time after losing to Adamek in June of 2012, circled the ring trying to stalk down his opponent, but wasn’t nearly active enough to do any damage, whereas Mchunu fought effectively with his back to the ropes, effortlessly landing two- and three-punch combos.
In the opening bout, unbeaten light middleweight prospect Tony Harrison (14-0, 11 KOs) of Detroit remained unbeaten with an impressive second-round knockout win over Camden, N.J., veteran Gilbert Alex Sanchez (2-3). The taller, leaner Harrison utilized a stiff, left jab to keep Sanchez at bay before peppering him with short right hooks to the body and head to open the second round. Sanchez hit the canvas halfway through the round courtesy of a hard right upstairs, but rose to his feet and kept fighting. Sanchez actually landed a few clean shots of his own during a brief exchange before a vicious body blow by Harrison dropped Sanchez for good, prompting referee Dock Harvey to wave it off at the 2:10 mark.
Long Island southpaw Michael Brooks (10-0) also remained unbeaten, outworking the scrappy Chip Perez (10-3) of Hartford, Conn., to earn a 57-56, 59-54, 60-53 unanimous-decision win. Brooks was originally supposed to face lightweight Karl Dargan, but Dargan was forced to withdraw the day before the weigh-in. Perez, who typically fights at super featherweight, was supposed to fight Chris Green, but Green was also forced to withdraw the week of the fight, so Perez and Brooks agreed to fight at a catch weight of 134 pounds and staged a classic, six-round battle.
Brooks, the taller, bigger fighter, was the aggressor early, catching Perez flush on several occasions through the first two rounds, but Perez withstood Brooks’ best and kept plugging away. Perez picked up the pace in the middle rounds, effectively landing clean right hands on the inside and then dipping back to the outside to avoid standing toe-to-toe with his taller opponent. Brooks’ reach, however, was too much for Perez to overcome; Perez also lost a point in the sixth round for leading with his shoulder, limiting his chances of winning scorecards. Perez made a last-ditch effort in the closing seconds to finish Brooks, urging his opponent to trade, but Brooks withstood the flurry to earn his 10th win and first of 2013.
Unbeaten Ukrainian heavyweight Vyacheslav Glazkov (15-0-1, 11 KOs) kept his perfect record intact, pulverizing the overmatched Byron Polley (25-16-1) in less than two rounds. Polley outweighed Glazkov by more than 30 pounds, but Glazkov’s height and sheer punching power were too much to withstand. Glazkov dropped Polley twice in the opening round and again 28 seconds into the second before Harvey stopped the bout. Glazkov also earned his first win of the year after his February bout against unbeaten Malik Scott ended in a draw.
Also on the undercard, Jimmy Williams (4-0-1) of New Haven, Conn., fought for the fifth time in 2013 in attempt to keep his perfect record intact, but he couldn’t break through against elusive Philadelphia welterweight Greg Jackson (3-0-1), who ducked and dodged his way out of trouble through four rounds. Judge Carlos Ortiz scored the bout 39-37 in favor of Williams, but Glenn Feldman and Frank Lombardi each ruled it 38-38, resulting in a majority draw. Williams was the aggressor, but failed to cut off the ring against the speedy Jackson, who seemed content with trying to counterpunch and land the occasional haymaker.