In an intriguing fight, that had major fan interest, one punch from David Lemieux turned his fight against Curtis Stevens into something else. Something boxing fans always dread. Going in, boxing fans saw this fight as a can’t miss, all action slugfest. For the fighters, it was a calculated risk where both fighters hoped to throw their names in the opponent pool for the Gennady Golovkin Vs Daniel Jacobs winner. In the third round, David Lemieux delivered a crushing left hook to the chin of Curtis Stevens, which put the fight to a halt, and our collective hearts in our throats. Stevens went down hard and was put to sleep. He was not waking up? Would he wake up?
The HBO crew was visibly shook, and concerned. Max Kellerman, an announcer who worked his way onto the ultimate premium cable network based on being the ultimate boxing fanboy, stated several times it was the most brutal KO he had ever seen.
Watching on television, the dreary scene of the medical staff surrounding an unconscious Stevens took me back to April 4th, 1990 in Madison Square Garden. On that evening, Donovan “Razor” Ruddock smashed Michael Dokes into oblivion. “Dynamite” Dokes was immediately put to sleep, and he was not waking up. The collective breaths inside the famed area were at a gasp.
Thoughts of Dokes never waking up were real; he appeared to be out much longer than Stevens. Stevens did eventually regain conscious (as did Dokes) and appears to be recovering well. Though at the time of this writing I have not identified a definitive report of a full recovery. It is what we all hope for.
Of course, boxing fans can recollect similar moments of brutality where fighters never regained consciousness. Reminding us all that boxing is no game. All boxers, male and female, risk their lives every time they lace ‘em up for our entertainment. All fighters deserve our utmost respect.
While it is fair to criticize boxers, no fan has the right to disparage boxers in such a way where phrases like bum, or coward, are tossed around. While there are many boxers I am not a fan of, even some I despise, I have the utmost respect for anyone who steps into that squared circle for my entertainment.
Lemieux’s brutal KO also conjured up thoughts about the mentality of boxing fans. Supporters of the sport often lose sight of the fact that many human beings do not watch boxing because it is just too brutal. For a lot people, there is nothing entertaining about watching someone getting punched. Yes, the sport of boxing is much more than that, but there is no getting around the fact that hitting your opponent is the main objective.
The emergence of such fighters like Floyd Mayweather Jr., have revolutionized the sport into a more defensive minded, safety first, hit and not get it approach. The philosophy of hit and not get hit has been around for ions, yet never quite as mastered in the way Mayweather, JR. has accomplished.
With that said, the greatest aesthetic experience for most boxing fans is still the knockout. J. Russell Peltz once told me boxing fans want to see guys carried out on a stretcher. Sounds a bit boorish, I know. But if we are to be totally honest with ourselves, there is no denying this statement.
Think about times, when the pugilist we are rooting for reigns fire upon on their opponent powerful enough to put them on their ass, or out cold. How do we react?
Fans of Aron Pryor were besides themselves with glee, as he punched Alexis Arguello into oblivion, Marvelous Marvin Hagler fans were in a state of euphoria as they watched Thomas Hearns do the ultimate chicken dance as their three-round classic commenced; two perfect examples that solidify Petlz’s point.
It was also the reason why so many eyeballs where fixated on the television set every time Mike Tyson went to work. They were not tuning in to see a competitive boxing match. Boxing fans love violence, no way around it.
At the same time, we never want to see anyone permanently damaged. We mourn just as hard as we celebrate when the brutality we hope for turns into tragedy. This glaring contradiction make boxing fans some of the most complicated, intriguing and fascinating people in the world.
Most people cannot wrap their heads around the belief that boxing fans crave brutality, yet always have the safety of the boxers at the top of their wish list. For that reason, boxing will always be under fire, as tragedy can be inflicted at a moment’s notice. Should a sport exist that can take an individual’s life, and has on several occasions? What does it make you, if you say yes? Well, it makes you a boxing fan. Nothing wrong with that, as long as you realize the average person is not cut from the same cloth.
Curtis Stevens, thank you for putting your life on the line for me. Get well soon!
Zutes Boxing Talk & Zutes MMA Talk are podcasts that bring you the world of combat sports straight up with no twists. In each episode, “Zute” calls upon the best boxing & MMA minds in the business to talk about the current state of the fight game, and interviews some of the best fighters in the world of combat sports. Carlos Palomino, Mikey Garcia Sergey Kovalev, Shonie Carter and Jeremy Horn are among the guests that have been featured on the podcast.Contact the Feature Writers