On the face of it this had the potential to be a firefight. We had two men with serious reputations as power punchers. We had Golovkin taking a 14 fight stoppage streak with him and we had Stevens giving the big old hard man routine. Unfortunately however Stevens failed to deliver on the many promises he had made. It was a classic case of a man writing checks his simply simply couldn't cash.
The opening round saw Stevens causing Golovkin some issues. It wasn't that Stevens was really doing anything that special he was just frustrating Golovkin by tucking up behind a high guard and giving next to no openings. It was the guard of Stevens that really only real problem and when he managed to get around it he scored with hard shots, most notably scoring a knockdown in the second round.
Unfortunately for viewers it appeared that the knockdown was the worst thing that could happen to the fight. Stevens, who was defensively minded from the off, went further into his shell trying to fight off the ropes with occasional flurries in an attempt to take Golovkin out with counters. Whilst we're not going to say that Golovkin can't be knocked out this was a strategy that didn't serve Stevens well and in fact seemed to merely frustrate Golovkin future. The champion, himself fighting with an air of caution, kept looking for holes in the defense though they were limited with only the odd shot slipping through to catch the challenger.
Whilst Stevens seemed to realise that his tactics weren't going to work he struggled when he changed them. Several times the two fighters stood toe-to-toe though Stevens would be tagged and end up back on the ropes as if they were a safe heaven. Whilst it may have seemed safer than centre ring it still wasn't that safe and Golovkin eventually found more and more holes in the defenses of Stevens, most notably to the body.
It seemed that if Golovkin was unable to land clean shots upstairs he'd just slowly chip away at Stevens breaking his resistance bit by bit. This included handcuffing Stevens with flurries of busy jabs as opposed to full blooded ones and a series of nasty body shots through round 8.
With Stevens tiring midway through the eighth Golovkin sensed his chance and went on an all assault. Although he didn't manage to floor the challenger a second time the fight was really starting to turn against Stevens who's left eye was swelling shut and his confidence was completely gone.
The American's corner seemed to know as soon as the eighth round ended that their man was done. Rather than even sitting him down they called for the referee and effectively pulled their man out, saving him for another day.
Considering the pre-fight antics of Stevens, who had famously been pictured with a "GGG" coffin this really was an anti-climatic ending. Whilst Stevens may have been saved from further damage physically it's fair to say that his career may never recover from what appeared to be a bit of a quit job. Of course we'll likely be criticised for saying that but for a man who spoke the way Stevens did this really was a disappointing performance.