Does anyone worth their salt want to fight Shakur Stevenson? Once again, another boxer has avoided the opportunity to face him. He truly is boxings boogeyman.
Early last week it was reported that Stevenson would be facing the undefeated Frank Martin later in the fall for the vacant WBC lightweight title. Top Rank (which handles Stevenson) and PBC (who reps Martin) had cut a deal just hours before a scheduled purse bid.
For Martin it would represent a career-high payday (said to be in the seven figures), and for Stevenson it would be a somewhat recognizable dance partner after having faces Shuichiro Yushino in his last bout in April.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
While not a huge fight, it was a solid match-up that would be televised by ESPN. A match-up between Ring Magazine's number five (Stevenson) and six (Martin) ranked lightweights.
But alas, it was too good to be true.
Mike Coppinger of ESPN reported that Stevenson-Martin had gone to 'bolivian on Friday:
Would it be too harsh to give Martin the new moniker of 'Donald' or Howard the'?
The bottom line is that Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) would be making real money for a major title, he would also be doing it on the biggest stage of his career. No guts, no glory, right? Well, nobody makes fellow fighters in his weight class become as cautious as Stevenson. He is the very definition of high risk-low reward (even when the reward is pretty good) It has to be stated that Martin has never had that big payday before in his career.
You wonder, what other option exists for him that will bring him this type of largesse?
Or perhaps it's not about that, at all?
Maybe, just maybe guys like Martin don't want to lose their precious '0', which is largely their only marketing tool. It's also been speculated that should Devin Haney move up permanently to 140, that there will be lot of vacant belts at 135 from which to choose from -- and some of them wont come with the task of having to face Stevenson. Could it be that this isn't about the money but facing someone much less difficult than the native of Newark?
Martin is being guided to the path of least resistance away from Stevenson.
But what's different than say a Tank Davis, is that Martin isn't a draw. There's a reason why his last bout took place in at the Cosmopolitan inside the Chelsea Ballroom. Say whatever you want about Stevenson, but his bouts at the Prudential Center in his hometown draw now over 10,000 patrons. Now, before you downplay that, name me all the local draws in American boxing?
There really aren't that many.
It's just my opinion that Martin would love a title shot, and the payday, he just may not want the inevitable boxing lesson that Stevenson would give him. And it's not far-fetched to think that the PBC really didn't want to take another loss against Top Rank. The track record speaks for itself.
But this is the reality for Stevenson, he truly is too good for his own good, especially in this era where fighters are routinely protected and steered away from challenges in the name of self-preservation, and platform protection. Unlike a Ryan Garcia, who brings an incredible amount of star power but is flawed as a boxer, Stevenson is simply too sound and skilled, with no real vulnerabilities.
Garcia is the sizzle, Stevenson is the steak.
Unfortunately for him, in today's game, one is rewarded, the other is avoided.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
You get the sense that Stevenson is in the same place that Terence Crawford was for years. The odd man out, the one on 'the wrong side of the street', and whatever reasoning that is used by rivals to justify not facing him. It doesn't help Stevenson that at just 26 years old and 20 fights under his belt (20-0, 10 KOs) that he's already a twice-a-year-fighter. As good as he is, Stevenson is still largely unknown to the general masses.
Some will state that Stevenson should've taken the 25-percent offered by Haney. You wonder just how legitimate that offer was. But I have to ask this: if you're favorite fighter with the credentials of Stevenson (two-time world champion, unified in one) was offered that same deal, would you have the same belief? But I will admit, maybe Stevenson should've called Haney's bluff, just to see what would have happened.
Stevenson is a gifted boxer, one that will be tough to beat for years. Which is the real problem. The business of boxing is tougher on Stevenson than the boxers. His current plight reminds of the famous words from 'North Dallas Forty' from O.W. Shaddock (played by the late John Matuszak):
"Every time I call it a business, you call it a game. And every time I call it a game, you call it a business."