Curtis Stevens has been down this road before.
It was two years ago on a April evening in North Philadelphia that the man formerly known as “Showtime” TKO’d Bahamian Tureano Johnson at 2:09 in the 10th and final round.
Johnson was undefeated in 14 fights until he met Stevens' crushing hook, colloquially known as “the equalizer.”
But his growing penchant of relying on the one-shot finishing blow arrested his ability to mount sound mental strategies.
“Mentally, when I was getting there, I always was looking for the equalizer in general so I had to re-convince myself that I did not become a star just hitting everyone with a hook in the amateurs,” said Stevens. “I had a right hand, uppercut body shots. I was overwhelming people with punches but it just so happened that if I hit you with the hook, it was lights out.”
At that time, Stevens (27-5) had just gotten back on the winning track, compiling his second straight win and second TKO in four short months. Then he met former WBO Middleweight champion Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam in an IBF Middleweight title elimination bout.
Stevens hit the canvas in the eighth round en route to a unanimous decision loss. It was a wake up call that he needed to make some key changes if he wanted to continue what was a once thriving career.
“I’m always physically ready in general, this is my livelihood,” said Stevens. “Mentally, I wasn’t all there at the time, but taking nothing away from N’Dam, he did what he had to do. Everything was on me that day but that was a thing of the past.”
Now two years removed, Stevens has shrugged off the loss to N’Dam and the highlight worthy loss to Gennady “GGG” Golovkin and is back in action this Saturday as the pay-per-view opener for the Canelo Alvarez vs. Amir Khan fight on HBO.
Fighting another unbeaten in Brazilian Patrick Teixeira (26-0), like when he bested Johnson two years ago, this fight could catapult Stevens back in the limelight of the Middleweight ranks on one of the biggest stages in boxing’s current landscape.
“I really don’t know nothing about him besides that he fought over here twice," Stevens said, referring to Teixeira. "He fought Don Mouton and I forget whom else he fought. He has a big output in numbers from what I see, but that’s against a guy who took the fight on one week’s notice. We had more than enough time to be ready. This is not his 26th walk in the park fight that he’s been up against.”
For this camp, the Brooklyn native made significant changes starting with his uncle and longtime trainer, Andre Rozier, opting for John David Jackson and his South Florida based training camp. Nixing his moniker of “Showtime,” Stevens’ new pseudonym is the “Cerebral Assassin,” a testament to his total rejuvenation.
“I wanted it to be a new beginning," Stevens said. "My uncle’s been training me since I was 5 years old so that name came about when I turned pro. Being that I’m with a new trainer, it’s a new name and a new Curtis Stevens. I don’t want to think about the past from my losses or from what happened in the past. I want the whole new identity and a new me, like I’m redefined and newly constructed.”
Although Stevens is still with Kathy Duva’s Main Events promotional organization, this is a Golden Boy card on May 7th and the newly built T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas will be enemy territory for the Middleweight veteran. This fact is not lost on Stevens.
“This is a Golden Boy card first of all," said Stevens. "This is their fighter. They believe Stevens isn’t going to show up. Usually doesn’t show up in the big fights, usually something happens but it’s a new day. The pressure is really not on me. He’s the one that doesn’t have any losses you know. He’s supposed to come and beat me up, but like I said, this is not his usual walk in the park.”