By Keith Idec
VERONA, N.Y. – David Lemieux made Curtis Stevens pay for all his pre-fight trash talk Saturday night.
Lemieux’s left hook knocked Stevens unconscious in the third round of their scheduled 12-round middleweight fight at Turning Stone Resort Casino. The former IBF middleweight champion’s crushing punch left Stevens out cold, underneath a bottom rope.
The scary scene prompted an immediate response from emergency personnel at ringside. Brooklyn’s Stevens (29-6, 21 KOs) was taken from the ring on a stretcher, but by then was conscious and signaled to his promoter, Main Events’ Kathy Duva, that he was OK.
Just before landing that devastating punch, Stevens partially blocked a right hand by Lemieux. Stevens prepared to throw a counter, but Lemieux’s left hook beat him there and ended the fight in spectacular fashion.
Referee Charlie Fitch stopped the fight immediately, at 1:59 of the third round.
“I told you before I did it,” Lemieux told HBO’s Max Kellerman in the ring. “I told you what I was gonna do tonight and I did it. I hope he’s healthy and everything is good.”
Montreal’s Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs) seemed to hurt Stevens toward the end of the first round, when Lemieux went after Stevens’ body with hard left hooks and backed him into the ropes. Stevens got Lemieux’s attention with a right hand early in the second round, which made Lemieux move backward.
Later in the second round, however, Lemieux landed several power shots of his own. A round later, he scored a highlight-reel knockout against an opponent who clearly had gotten under his skin during a contentious buildup toward their HBO “Boxing After Dark” main event.
“It was a perfect connection,” Lemieux said. “It’s what we’ve been practicing for and what we’ve been looking forward to do.”
The 28-year-old Lemieux has won each of his three bouts by knockout since undisputed middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) stopped him in the eighth round of their October 2015 fight at Madison Square Garden. The 32-year-old Stevens, who was stopped by Golovkin in their November 2013 fight, lost by technical knockout for the third time in his career.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.