The sport of Boxing is a martial art that has one main goal. To hit your opponent, but not be hit by your opposition. A practice that is often easier said than done, but one that when executed to near perfection is not always appreciated by Boxing fans that look to Boxing for the type of entertainment value that is seen in the type of thrilling back and forth battles that are not only remembered fondly by fans and viewed by Boxing fans decades after they occur thanks to available technology, but also allows Boxing scribes and historians no shortage of material to reference as we continue our journeys covering the sport we love.
For a Boxing purist however, there is something to appreciate when a fighter comes along that is able to blend the elements of the art of Boxing, the sport known as” The Sweet Science “ into a complete package it is fascinating to watch. In the case of undefeated former WBO Featherweight world champion Shakur Stevenson has shown in just sixteen professional fights that he is one such fighter that might have that complete blending of a full Boxing skillset.
After briefly holding the WBO Featherweight world championship, Stevenson moved up into the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight division where he has continued his winning ways. What makes Stevenson so dangerous is he has a mix of hand speed, punching power, and defense that has thus far proven difficult for opponents to combat to such degree that opponents have found it difficult to land single punches on him consistently. When one throws into the equation that Stevenson is also a southpaw, you have a combination of attributes that in simple terms if you’re a fighter or corner opposing him can be described as a migraine in trying to figure out how to solve Stevenson’s puzzle.
Stevenson entered his sixteenth professional fight on June 12th at the Virgin Hotel In in Las Vegas, NV to face top contender Jeremia Nakathila. With both fighters rated number one and two respectively in the World Boxing Organization’s (WBO) Jr. Lightweight ratings, this fight amounted to a world title elimination bout to determine a mandatory challenger for current WBO Jr. Lightweight world champion Jamel Herring.
Although much of the focus going into this fight did center on Stevenson, I was interested to see whether Nakathila, a veteran of twenty-two professional bouts, who is known for having a right hand that when it lands is capable of ending fights as he had scored seventeen knockouts in his twenty-one career wins could find a way to land it on a fighter that id regarded as one of the most elusive in the sport such as Stevenson.
The short answer is for twelve rounds what was billed as an elimination bout quickly evolved into what became a masterclass with Shakur Stevenson showcasing the art of Boxing. While not necessarily an entertaining bout for those who like back and forth battles, this was a Boxing purists dream. Showcasing hand speed, timing and immaculate defense, Stevenson turned what was a competition between two top contenders into a sparring session where one fighter simply could not get any punches off and if he was able to land a punch, it was sporadic and ineffective. An illustration of Stevenson’s dominance in the fight was not only that he was able to keep his opponent from hardly landing any offense, but also an ability to perfectly time anything that Nakathila had to offer. This was evidenced late in round four when Stevenson caught Nakathila with a short counter right hook that he could not see.
At no point during the twelve round bout was Stevenson put in any kind of danger nor was Nakathila able to get close enough to land a power punch that may have led to a rally of sorts. While this is something that is not always appreciated by Boxing fans and frankly, narrows the analysis that this observer can offer beyond saying it was a dominant display of one fighter’s skill, if you train a boxer, this is the type of performance that you want to see out of your charge in your fighter not taking any significant damage over the course of a fight, but also sweeping the scorecards, which is exactly what happened here as Stevenson won all twelve rounds on all three official judges scorecards to improve to 16-0, with 8 Knockouts.
If there was a criticism that one might point to of Stevenson as he is now the mandatory challenger for Jamel Herring and thus earned interim championship status in the WBO Jr. Lightweight ratings as a result, it might be that the potential was there once it became apparent that Nakathila had no answer for Stevenson’s hand speed, that perhaps if he had pressed the issue, he may have been able to stop Nakathila in a fight that he was in complete control of.
Despite the clear victory for Stevenson, an issue that can exist for fighters in his position that have similar skillsets and attributes is, it could discourage those in the Jr. Lightweight division and potentially above, who might hold the opportunity for lucrative paydays from fighting someone of Stevenson’s caliber. In short, like many great fighters who were as savvy when it came to mastering the defensive aspects of the art of Boxing as they were the offensive aspects, some fighters snd to be more specific, promoters who have a vested interest in potential opponents may view Shakur Stevenson as a high risk/low reward option. While that is not necessarily fair for a fighter in Stevenson’s position, it unfortunately is one of the issues that makes Boxing a flawed sport as much as it is a great one.
Whether or not Shakur Stevenson will get his opportunity to fight Jamel Herring in what would be his attempt to become a two-division world champion remains to be seen. It may however, come down to whether there might be more lucrative options available to Herring, who may ultimately decide to move up to the 135lb. Lightweight division where there is certainly no shortage of potential options and a lot of money to be made.
“And That’s The Boxing Truth.”
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