By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Abel Sanchez hopes Curtis Stevens provides a more formidable challenge against Gennady Golovkin than Matthew Macklin managed to offer four months ago.
Golovkin’s trainer doesn’t believe Stevens is capable of doing that, though. Sanchez expects the knockout artist from Kazakhstan to dismantle Stevens pretty easily Saturday night in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“It’ll be easier than Macklin,” Sanchez said. “He’s not quite the fighter that Macklin is. Macklin’s a better fighter.”
Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) knocked out Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) with a body shot in the third round June 29 in Mashantucket, Conn. The unbeaten WBA middleweight champion is an 11-1 favorite over Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs), who while powerful, also has lost a one-sided unanimous decision to Jessie Brinkley (35-7, 22 KOs) and by eighth-round technical knockout to journeyman Marcos Primera (20-28-2, 13 KOs).
“Everybody is a challenge,” Sanchez said. “I’m not going to dismiss him. But he’s one of these fighters that talked himself into a fight, a championship fight. And he’s going to get destroyed. Gennady is taking him very seriously, as I am.
“But he doesn’t belong in the ring with Triple-G. If you saw the Jessie Brinkley fight, if you saw the [Derrick] Findley fight, it’s going to take him a long time to change what he’s done in those fights. A mutt is always going to be a mutt. It’s very hard to change him.”
The 28-year-old Stevens has recorded first-round knockouts in three of the four wins he has produced since resuming his career in March 2012 following a two-year layoff. The Brooklyn native moved down from super middleweight to middleweight and started taking training more seriously before getting back in the ring 19 months ago. Sanchez still doesn’t think Stevens is ready for a fighter of Golovkin’s caliber.
Stevens knocked out Mexican veteran Saul Roman (37-10, 31 KOs) with a crushing left hook in the first round of his last bout, but Sanchez wasn’t overly impressed by Stevens’ sensational stoppage Aug. 3 in Uncasville, Conn. He paid more attention in preparation for their HBO “Boxing After Dark” main event Saturday night to Stevens’ eight-round unanimous decision victory over Derrick Findley (20-11-1, 13 KOs, 1 NC) on April 20 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
“Look at Roman’s last three or four fights,” Sanchez said. “The guys that were something, like Findley, who loses also, he had a hard time with. And he had a hard time with Jessie Brinkley. He’s a good ‘B’ fighter.
“I said at the beginning of this promotion that if you gave him three or four more fights that it could help him develop into a 160-pounder and into a better fighter. But he’s not quite ready for this shot, in my opinion.”
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.