By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Curtis Stevens scored first-round knockouts in each of his two fights since January 2010.
With that low level of activity on his record, Stevens clearly can use some rounds Saturday during his scheduled eight-rounder against Derrick Findley in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. But if their nationally televised middleweight match goes the distance, Stevens will consider his performance a failure, even if he wins every round on all three scorecards.
“I’m not going to be too happy,” Stevens said, “because I am a knockout artist.”
The 28-year-old Stevens (23-3, 17 KOs) wants to perform as impressively as possible because he knows NBC’s two-fight, afternoon telecast could draw somewhere between three million and four million viewers. Fans obviously love knockouts and Stevens wants to become the first fighter to knock out Findley (20-9, 13 KOs), of Gary, Ind.
“He’s never been knocked out,” Stevens said, “so if I go in there and knock him out, it’s going to speak for itself.”
Stevens realizes stopping Findley won’t be easy. Findley has lost six of his last nine fights, but four of those decision defeats have come against undefeated or then-undefeated prospects on their way up the middleweight ranks (J’Leon Love, Viktor Polyakov, Fernando Guerrero and Matt Korobov). The 28-year-old Findley also has lost to Andre Ward and Andre Dirrell during his seven-year pro career.
“He’s a pretty strong dude, I believe,” Stevens said. “He loves to come forward, looks like he likes to fight. But he’s never been in there with a guy who hits as hard as me, with my attributes. I’m very well-rounded. I’m just waiting to get in there on Saturday and put on a good show.”
Stevens, a Brooklyn native, is especially appreciative of this opportunity because a two-year layoff after an extremely disappointing defeat to Jesse Brinkley in a WBC super middleweight elimination match damaged the once-promising prospect’s reputation.
“I’m very honored,” Stevens said. “I’m very grateful. There will be over three million, four million viewers on NBC. I’m just ready to go in there and put it on for my city, show the world what they can expect from me.
“God gave me my two years off to humble me a little more because I wasn’t humble. I still talk a lot of junk, but outside of [boxing] I wasn’t a very humble man. But God gave me two years to get my thoughts together and make sure this time around I come full force and take the middleweight division by storm.”
The Stevens-Findley fight will open NBC’s broadcast at 4 p.m. ET. The 12-round main event, an IBF heavyweight elimination match, will pit Philadelphia’s Steve Cunningham (25-5, 12 KOs) against England’s Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KOs).
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.