West of Los Angeles sits beautiful Santa Monica beach; palm trees, and beautiful people adorn the area with families abound on the pier to enjoy the rides. Boxing made its way to Santa Monica in the form of a heavily hyped elimination bout to become the mandatory challenger for the IBF middleweight title.
The venue for the fight was something of a topic on twitter with the fight taking place in Barker Hangar. The Hagar was definitely spiffed up in an effort to create a boxing meets downtown Los Angeles cocktail lounge look. White leather couches and ottomans served as the floor seats and played host to a who’s who of celebrities that only Los Angeles can produce.
Curtis Stevens 27-5 20KO’s met Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam 31-1 18KO’s in an eliminator bout to decide who will fight the winner of IBF Champion Sam Soliman bout with Jermain Taylor.
The build up to the fight was impressive considering the fighters histories. Stevens who is best known by many for his loss to GGG Genady Golovkin and N’Dam for his loss to Peter Quillin set the stage for fireworks because of the spirited way each fighter lost. Stevens was coming off of a come from behind 10th round TKO of Tureano Johnson, a fight he was losing but flashed the type of one punch knockout power that stays in the minds of fight fans. N’Dam has 3 wins since his six knockdown loss to Quillin a fight that he was competitive and exciting in despite the knockdowns.
N’Dam essentially schooled Stevens who wasn’t able to do much more than follow N’Dam around the ring and throw one punch at a time. N’Dam flashed a fast jab that befuddled Stevens and stopped him from getting in close to set up his offense.
Round six heated up a little when Stevens did get in and land a combination that prompted N’Dam to turn up the jab and do a little smack talking.
N’Dam dropped Stevens in the 8th round with a right hand for the fights only knockdown. By the 10th round Stevens had the look of a fighter that was confused and frustrated. The jab and work to the body were completely missing from Stevens fight plan.
The 12th round was the only round Stevens was able to connect on N’Dam almost making for another dramatic victory as he caught N’Dam on the inside and landed a big right hand that had N’Dam on shaky legs with thirty seconds left in the round; but it wasn’t enough as N’Dam was able to clinch and hang on till the end of the fight and win on the cards. Two judges had it 116-111 and the third had it the same as I did 118-109, ESPN analyst Teddy Atlas had it 118-109 in a fight that really wasn’t close.
N’Dam will get his shot at the IBF belt or become an opponent for Golovkin to take advantage of the exposure on ESPN, either way he earned it in a dominant performance.
The co-main event featured a pair of fighters from Ghana, undefeated prospect Frederick Lawson 23-0 20KO’s took on veteran Ghanaian and former Olympian Ray Nahr 26-6 21KO’s. Lawson boxed well enough to get the decision and drop Nahr in the second with a counter left and again in the 8th with a nice left hook. There was a long pause in the fight as referee Ray Corona called a halt to the action to have a piece of metal protruding from the ring covered. Lawson still has holes in his game that need to be polished but got a good victory in an all Ghana grudge match.
To open the televised card Colombian puncher Miguel Marriaga 19-0 17KO’s stopped fringe contender Chris Martin 28-4-3 9KO’s in the 6th round of a fight that showcased his skills and ability to a televised audience. Marriaga worked the body well mixing in uppercuts and hooks until he dropped Martin in the sixth round with a hard left uppercut. Martin beat the count but Marriaga was merciless and pounded on Martin until referee Ray Corona waived off the fight.