Feeling the hate: N'Dam defeats Stevens for IBF title shot

There is no more rare commodity in boxing than pure, unfettered hate.

So often what fans see as "hate" between opponents is nothing more than academy level acting to sell pay-per view buys.

And so, with the cards squarely in his corner, it was nice to see Hassan N’Dam break out the Ali shuffle after Curtis Stevens motioned as to slit his throat before the bell, in response to N’Dam calling him a, “f---g piece of shit” as they left the weigh-in where Curtis said he would “run his ass over.”

However, N’dam would leave with the last retort Wednesday night as well as a mandatory shot at the IBF middleweight title as he defeated Stevens by unanimous decision at the Barker Hangar.

The fight progressed like a waltz, with N’Dam keeping his distance, peppering Stevens from the outside and circling as soon as his partner in the barely regulation sized ring attempted to move forward.

Occasionally, Stevens would corner N’Dam and turn the proceedings into a tango, even though the brawler from Brooklyn had his French opponent where he wanted him, N’Dam would eventually escape before Stevens could do damage.

“My game plan was to give him a boxing lesson. I do it. My game plan was good and I give him a boxing lesson,” N’Dam, who was fighting at middleweight for the first time since losing the WBO middleweight title to Peter Quillin in 2012, said.

Though the ring was small, the California State Athletic Commission certified it at the 18 by 18 foot minimum; N’Dam’s boxing skill removed the brawler Steven’s supposed advantage on the more intimate dance floor.

At the weigh-in, Stevens said, “when I was fighting Gennady [Golovkin, who he lost the WBA and IBO middleweight titles to] I was fighting within myself. Fighting myself."

It was apparent that he was losing the fight against him self again as he was reticent to let his hands go after hurting N’Dam with a left hook to the body early.

“The first punches, hurt. But, I take my time. I say I have 12 rounds, I turn around and come back,” N’Dam said.

In the end of fourth round the thinking Stevens finally got the brilliant idea to work the body to slow the tempo but soon discarded the thought and when the fifth round began he led with his jab, but again stopped what seemed to be working.

Though Stevens had a rare good round in the seventh, N’Dam quickly turned the fickle lady, momentum, to his favor in the eighth by landing a brutal counter right cross that put Stevens to the canvas.

Sensing that he needed a knockout, Stevens finally turned off his brain and brawled the way he needed to in the 11 rounds prior.

Perhaps it might have been the result of a wake up call for Stevens from N’Dam’s Ali shuffle, which he described as, “for the pleasure of the fans.” We will never know, as Stevens refused to speak after the match.

The judges cards read: 115-111 119-108, 115-111.

N’Dam now has a mandatory match for the IBF middleweight title against the winner of the Sam Soliman v. Jermain Taylor bout.

For N’Dam it will be his first chance to fight for a title since the loss to Quillin.

“Today was a good night for me to return to the middleweight division. I’m the contender,” N’Dam said.

When asked what N’Dam showed that would translate well into a fight against the winner of the October 8 fight, ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas said, ”He [will be] fighting a 40 year old.”

N'Dam, does not care who he fights for the title.

"I know I need to take the IBF title," N'Dam said. "I'll be watching the fight and I will fight the winner."