The power of Curtis Stevens wasn't allowed to steal the show tonight, as Hassan N'dam outboxed the powerful middleweight handily, scoring a decision win to earn a shot at the IBF middleweight title. Scores were 116-111, 116-111, and 119-108. BLH had it 117-110 for N'dam.
N'dam (31-1, 18 KO) played matador to Stevens' sedated bull all night, comfortably moving away from Stevens' lethal left hook -- "The Eraser," as they called it all night -- and never giving the shorter, more limited fighter a chance to do the damage he needed. Picking and pecking from the outside, N'dam was never in any real trouble, and seemed to have humbled Stevens by the championship rounds, as the 29-year-old Brownsville fighter simply looked lost after an eighth round knockdown put an exclamation point on N'dam's domination.
Stevens (27-5, 20 KO) had a terrible time trying to cut off the ring, and N'dam was allowed to dictate the pace and real estate of the fight with ease. By the latter stages of the fight, N'dam was breaking out Ali Shuffles and taunting Stevens, who did make a bit of a charge in round 12, but to no avail. He appeared to stun N'dam a bit late, but the 30-year-old former WBO titleholder was able to hang on and survive the round.
N'dam will now await the winner of next Wednesday's IBF middleweight title fight between Sam Soliman (44-11, 18 KO) and Jermain Taylor (32-4-1, 20 KO), which will be aired on ESPN2 from the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. Stevens obviously has the cloudier future, but it's likely he'll be back in the ring before too long, because that's just the sort of fighter that he is. He'll try to rebound from this loss, just as he did after losing to Gennady Golovkin last year.
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In a fight between rivals and natives of Accra, Ghana, Frederick Lawson (23-0, 20 KO) routed veteran Ray Narh (26-6, 21 KO), scoring knockdowns in the second and eighth round. The 25-year-old Lawson was simply too strong for the 36-year-old Narh, who has now lost five of his last six.
BLH had the fight 99-89 for Lawson, which was reflected on the scorecards of Barry Druxman and Jack Reiss. Gwen Adair scored the fight an absurd 95-93 for Lawson, having it even in rounds and Lawson winning only on the knockdowns.
There was an extended break between rounds in the middle of the fight, as the timekeeper pointed out a piece of metal protruding from the ring apron. To address this issue, a towel was shoved up in there, covering the metal. It was really something.
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Miguel Marriaga made his American pro boxing debut very impressively, dominating Chris Martin and stopping the San Diego veteran in six rounds. Marriaga (19-0, 17 KO) had a suspect record built in his native Colombia, with one fight in Mexico, but he looked legitimate tonight, and the 26-year-old may be a prospect to watch at featherweight.
Marriaga won all five completed rounds on our card, and then dropped Martin (28-4-3, 9 KO) hard in round six. Referee Raul Caiz Jr warned Martin when he got up that another knockdown would stop the fight, and though Martin didn't go down, he was rocked hard on a left uppercut against the ropes, leading to Caiz making a totally understandable decision to stop the contest.
While this win doesn't make Marriaga a contender immediately, it is a very impressive first showing on TV. Marriaga physically dominated early and set the tone for the fight with left hooks to the body, and good right hands upstairs. Martin, a fighter who has lived and died on craftiness in the past, never got anything going in this fight, and was really only competitive in the third round.