By Jake Donovan
The middleweight fight between Elvin Ayala and Curtis Stevens – which serves as the televised co-feature on this Saturday’s NBC Sports Network Fight Night show from Mohegan Sun – will now come with a regional title at stake.
The news was revealed during Thursday’s press conference on the casino grounds to promote this weekend’s card. The reaction from those at the dais revealed that promoters are perhaps the last species who are still genuinely excited about alphabet hardware of any kind.
“We just found out today that Stevens-Ayala is for the NABF championship,” revealed co-promoter Jimmy Burchfield, the leading promoter in the New England area. “That’s great news because when you win one of those fights, you usually wind up in the Top 10.”
As far as the fighters are concerned, winning is the only thing that matters. What comes with such a feat is simply a bonus.
“I just heard the news of this new title (at stake). It doesn’t change anything,” said Ayala (26-5-1, 12KO), who celebrated his 32nd birthday this week. “When I get in the ring, I know that my opponent is going to try his hardest to stop me from eating, to stop my children from eating. I am a beast. I’ve been saying for a long time that I’m trying to get the beast out. Today I can say that I’m ready.”
Ayala enters the fight riding a six-fight win streak, all of which has taken place at the two leading casinos in his home state of Connecticut – Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods.
Conversely, Stevens has fought just one round in the past three years, and travels from Brooklyn into the lion’s den. While alphabet glory is fine, negating the hometown element his opponent enjoys on paper is all that is on his mind.
“I’m grateful that Main Events got it approved, but my mindset is that I can’t take no steps back. I have to keep moving forward,” said Stevens (22-3, 16KO), who scored a 1st round knockout last March in his first fight since losing to Jessie Brinkley two years prior. “I may be in his backyard, but come Saturday night he’s going to be in my house. I’ve taken a lot of bumps and bruises. Come Saturday night I’m ready to climb back to the top.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox