By Geoffrey Ciani: Earlier this year, I was ringside when Curtis Stevens won a unanimous decision against Darnell Boone in a lackluster affair. It was one of the least interesting bouts I’d ever seen. The thing I remember most about the fight was the unbearably slow pace and absolutely lethargic punch output by the up and coming prospect, Stevens.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when Stevens was outworked and out hustled this past weekend; I was convinced he’d ultimately meet his match at the hands of a more active fighter. What was surprising, however, was watching Stevens succumb to a fighter as inexperienced as Andre Dirrell. Curtis Stevens has skills, but he cannot seem to use them effectively. He is a pressure fighter who cannot properly apply pressure.
Even worse, he lacks killer instinct in the ring. All of this was on display Saturday night when Stevens suffered a one-sided loss to the unheralded Dirrell, who incidentally, was fighting for just the twelfth time in his professional career.
Andre Dirrell fought an extremely smart fight. He jabbed and moved like a beautifully synchronized machine, continuously baffling Stevens as he peppered him while staying out of harm’s way. He jabbed, he ran, he jabbed, he moved, he jabbed, he danced, and whenever Stevens tried to muster up some offense of his own, Dirrell was already circling away. It was another lackluster affair, only this time, Stevens was outworked and outclassed.
Sometimes I thought the commentators were being overly critical of Dirrell. After all, this is a young and inexperienced fighter who’s still learning his trade; he was supposed to be nothing more than a walk-over for the up-and-coming Stevens. In particular, Harold Lederman was being unfair in his criticisms; he should have been more critical of the disappointing prospect instead of the stepping stone youth.
Over all, though, I much enjoyed the new commentating team. The impeccable trio of Larry Merchant, Lennox Lewis, and Bob Papa was most entertaining. They were also rather astute in their observations. For example, Lennox Lewis was correct in repeatedly referring to Stevens as flat-footed; he was flat-footed, and this made things much easier for Dirrell than they otherwise may have been.
Likewise, Larry Merchant was correct when he pointed out something to the effect “…shorter fighters need to turn a size disadvantage into and advantage, but that he (Stevens) just doesn’t seem able to do that.” He wasn’t able to do that. He merely followed Dirrell around the ring and looked extremely foolish in doing so. This enabled Dirrell to switch between orthodox and southpaw stances at will, and he did so very effectively. It didn’t matter which stance he was in, for the same simple formula stymied Stevens with ease.
If Stevens wants to be more effective in the future, he needs to learn to bob and weave more in order to work his way inside. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he works at it, I’m not sure he will ever be able to emulate a young Mike Tyson. Despite all of his skills, his lack of killer instinct should prevent him from ever reaching the top level. His loss to the unheralded Dirrell proved this.
This article was also published at East Side Boxing