David Lemieux vs Curtis Stevens
Record: 36-3 (32 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'9½" / 70" ... Age: 28
Thoughts: Lemieux is still just 28, which seems kinda wild. He’s been on the scene for a good while now, in notable televised fights, and he just keeps plugging away, with only a handful of losses and some world title history.
Lemieux is a guy you know what you’re getting: action, power, and sometimes some leaky defense. That makes him fun to watch and vulnerable, which also makes him fun to watch, and this is a reason to like this matchup, too. Stevens can punch, and if Lemieux gets hit with something big, all bets are off, even though he’s the favorite, and should be.
Lemieux has also won two straight since his loss to Gennady Golovkin in October 2015, and he’s looked sharp in doing so. But those opponents — Glen Tapia and Cristian Fabian Rios — weren’t contenders. Stevens, at his best, is.
Record: 29-5 (21 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 71½" ... Age: 31
Thoughts: When Curtis Stevens throws his right hand, it makes his devastating left hook even more dangerous. When he doesn’t, he becomes one-dimensional and predictable. It’s really that simple.
His last five fights have shown us pretty much every version of Stevens. Against Patrick Majewski, he was overpowering, stopping Majewski in 46 seconds. Against Tureano Johnson, he was outboxed before rallying late for a questionable stoppage win. Against Hassan N’dam, he was flat and shut out over 12 rounds. Against Patrick Teixeira, he got his right hand going and blew away a young fighter in two rounds. And then against James de la Rosa, he was a little flat again, and a veteran fighter gave him some problems in an uninspiring 10-round win.
Stevens, then, is something of a wild card. He’s unpredictable, even if his style can sometimes be predictable. You just never quite know what you’re getting from him, but when he’s on his game, he’s a dangerous middleweight.
Matchup Grade: B. It’s significant, if not that significant. But it’s also a matchup of bangers, and that’s the most important thing. It’s hard to imagine this being a truly dull fight, because Lemieux is a guy who pushes the pace, and if Stevens is going to challenge him or even win, he’ll have to adjust to that. He’s probably not going to be able to shut Lemieux down. He’ll have to crack with him. I like the fight.
Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Rene Alvarado
Record: 25-1 (17 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'5½" / 65" ... Age: 35
Thoughts: Once upon a time, Gamboa had boxing fans going gaga over his ability and potential. He was a possible pound-for-pound king, a great contender. His career panned out for a while. It has been a long time since he truly mattered, though.
A series of poor business decisions — leaving Top Rank, signing with 50 Cent’s ill-fated promotional outfit, etc. — have left the Cuban out in the cold for the most part since 2011. He fought once in 2012, once in 2013, twice in 2014, and once in 2015. He was on the shelf for all of 2016. The last time most people saw him, he was giving a great effort but wound up overpowered at 135 by Terence Crawford in June 2014.
Gamboa is now 35 years old. He’s also really, really not a lightweight. He’s small and short-armed for the division, and his speed doesn’t do him the favors it did at 126. He’s also just getting up there in age and time is a factor. In the end, we’ll probably wind up looking back at the years Gamboa essentially wasted and wonder what could have been. But he’s got a chance to make some waves again, if he’s got it in him.
Record: 24-7 (16 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 2-3 ... Last 10: 5-5 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 72" ... Age: 28
Thoughts: Alvarado is a young journeyman, a guy who has fought from 122 to 130 and will now try his hand against Gamboa at lightweight. He’s got losses to Tino Avila, Andrew Cancio, Joseph Diaz Jr, Eric Hunter, and Rocky Juarez within his last 10 fights, but in his last outing defeated Jayson Velez, a decent fighter who had nonetheless lost two in a row.
Alvarado doesn’t bring anything really special to the ring
Matchup Grade: C. It’s good to see Gamboa back and fighting, but I wonder how much he’s got left. And even if it’s not that much, he should handle Alvarado. That said, I wouldn’t be totally stunned by an "upset." Alvarado is ALWAYS a game opponent, and we’ve seen Gamboa struggle at 135 with guys like Michael Farenas.