It was a more enticing match-up Wednesday than we’re used to seeing from ESPN: two fringe middleweight contenders, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam vs. Curtis Stevens. It also wasn’t competitive, alas, with the only moment of drama coming in the seesaw 8th, as the mobile N’Dam otherwise dominated the power punching Stevens.
The drama in the 8th started with N’Dam scoring a right hand knockdown, and given how much time N’Dam spent on the canvas against Peter Quillin combined with Stevens’ knack for one-shot knockouts, it was a surprising reversal. But there was another reversal coming, as Stevens fought his way back into the round and landed a left hook that shook N’Dam.
That Stevens got knocked down was a result of the hole he found himself in — after starting in a hurry in the 1st, rocking N’Dam, his man righted himself and set to flummoxing. N’Dam just moved too well, and Stevens’ arsenal is too basic (summarized: lunge with some right hands and try to set up that superb left hand). Without a way to get at N’Dam — and body punches weren’t much landing, as Stevens is stubbier than N’Dam and N’Dam was able to stay out of range the vast majority of the time — Stevens spent large portions of the fight dispirited, or else getting recklessly aggressive, as he did in the 8th. Oh, he’d catch him with the occasional flurry along the ropes, but only when N’Dam was kind enough to set up shop there for a few seconds.
Stevens needed more recklessly aggressive and less dispirited, since those were his only choices. The scorecards read 116-111, 116-111 and 119-108.
The win sets N’Dam up for a shot at the winner of Sam Soliman-Jermain Taylor, also booked for ESPN. So, Soliman, then. It also might put him back in the division’s top 10. It wasn’t a perfect performance, but it was more than enough to beat a limited, yet dangerous, foe.