In what was his official lightweight debut, Shakur Stevenson conducted surgery over six rounds at the Prudential Center in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, against the overwhelmed Shuichiro Yoshino.
This is no knock on the Japanese fighter, the reality that almost every other boxer is no match for the boxing acumen of Stevenson.
It's clear, that the two-time world champion, will soon be a three-time champion, sooner rather than later.
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“He felt my power. I sat down on a couple punches and dropped him. Honestly, I wanted the ref to let it go on a little bit longer. I had just caught my second wind. I was going to put him out," said Stevenson, who has now fully grown into his mans-strength.
It will be a looooong time before someone beats this pugilistic prodigy. Quick, off the top of your head: name someone from 130 to 140 that you would honestly favor over Stevenson? Most boxing insiders will tell you that Stevenson is the one.
Perhaps it's a bit of hyperbole to call him the modern day Pernell Whitaker, but there are some striking similarities between the two. From having an Olympic background, a supportive home town, a stealth southpaw style, and a high boxing IQ.
And while some may not like his style, to say that he's just a boxer who moves around the ring, is simply not true. He is now evolving into a pocket fighter, who is more than willing to stand right in front of his foes and befuddle them with his sense of distance, timing and sharp punches.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
There's a reason why there is already a litany of names that have bypassed him, and while the other marquee names around 135 never say his name. This guy is the real life boxing boogeyman. And now he's becoming a legitimate draw in Newark (over 10,400 attended this past weekend) and he pulls in a solid number on ESPN. He is becoming an American boxing star by today's standards.
Still, you wonder when he will get to mix with the other big name in the sport. In many ways his situation reminds me of a young Floyd Mayweather, who for years believed he was the best boxer in the world (and he was probably right) but wanted the tens of millions that he felt came with such a designation. Contrary to popular belief, skills alone, do not pay the bills.
Keep this in mind, it took Mayweather 37 fights, and four major world titles, to finally get his opportunity against Oscar De La Hoya in 2007, which launched the 'Money' portion of his career.
Right now, the only thing holding back Stevenson is his lack of transcendent popularity. But you wonder, can he ever get there fighting just twice-a-year at age 25, with only 20 bouts under his belt? Like many other modern day boxers, he now fights just biannually. Since winning his first world title in 2019 (a year where he performed four times), he has now settled into fighting twice a calendar year.
Mayweather captured his initial belts in 1998, and in two of the next three years, boxed three times. Miguel Cotto, another star that was developed by Top Rank, won his first world title in 2004, and proceeded to box three times in four of the next five years of his career. Both Mayweather and Cotto became legitimate pay-per-view franchises.
Yeah, you could argue that the game and business of boxing has changed in the social media era. But I'd counter that nothing markets a fighter to the masses like actually getting out there and doing the job consistently.
To get to where he wants to be, Stevenson may have to be more active. He's going to be tough to beat, regardless. But until that risk is worth the reward, some just wont ever try to.
“Just tell all those other lightweights to get ready," Stevenson stated. "I’m waiting for them. I can’t wait for them to finish the fights they’ve got going on, and then it’s my turn."
Some quick random thoughts on what took place this past weekend, that saw cards on DAZN, Showtime and ESPN...
- Brandun Lee had to battle Pedro Campa over 10 fast-paced rounds at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California. It was certainly an exciting back-and-forth slugfest, but it was hard not to notice just how many times Lee got hit clean. Head movement was non-existent from Lee, and even though he won a unanimous decision (99-91, 98-92, and 97-93), many believe Campa should have had his hands raised in victory.
Regardless, if that's the way Lee will go about things moving forward, it will be a relatively short shelf life for his career.
Esther Lin/Showtime Sports
- Brian Mendoza scored a shocking seventh round KO of the heavily favored, Sebastian Fundora. In Mendoza's corner was trainer, Ismael Salas, who once again was part of an upset. In my view, to be considered a world-class cornerman, you have to win fights you're not supposed to. Salas, does this on a consistent basis.
When you see that guy in the opposite corner, expect a tough night at the office.
Esther Line/Showtime Sports
- Meanwhile in San Antonio, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez captured the vacant WBO flyweight title by scoring a wide unanimous decision over the tough Cristian Gonzalez over 12 rounds. But there was a price to pay, as he suffered a broken jaw in the sixth round.
It's not clear just how long this will delay the unification bout versus Sunny Edwards.
- Murodjon Akhmadaliev came on strong late, but was not able to overcome the early lead of Marlon Tapales, who won a split decision to capture the WBA and IBF 122 pound titles. For a guy like 'MJ' this is a huge loss, because it was those belts that created his value. And now it's Tapales who could be a coveted opponent for whoever wins the summer showdown between Stephen Fulton and Naoya Inoue.
Yeah, for guys like him, and Tapales, belts really matter.
- Top Rank's highly touted prospects shined on Saturday night. Bruce Carrington made quick work of Brandon Chambers, halting him in two rounds. Despite his relative inexperience (7-0, 4 KOs) he has the skills and temperament to make a move up the featherweight ladder pretty quickly.
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Lightweight Keyshawn Davis steadily wore down Anthony (Can Yoooouuuuu) Yigit in what was his eighth pro contest. Look for him to be moved very quickly. It wont be that long before he fights for a lightweight title.
And heavyweight Jared Anderson took care of George Arias in three rounds. Yeah, I'll say it, right now he's a top 10, if not top five, big man.