The career of undefeated former two-division world champion Shakur Stevenson thus far has been one of dominance. After winning world championships in both the 126lb. Featherweight and 130lb. Jr. Lightweight divisions, Stevenson in part because of difficulty making the 130lb. Jr. Lightweight limit prior to his last scheduled title defense of the unified WBO/WBC world championship against Robson Conceicao In September of last year, losing the championship on the scale prior to scoring a twelve round unanimous decision, Stevenson set his sights on the 135lb. Lightweight division where in his debut as a Lightweight, he scored a knockout of a “Game,” but overmatched previously undefeated Shuichiro Yoshino in an elimination bout to determine the number one contender for the World Boxing Council (WBC) Lightweight championship of the world.
As most Boxing fans know, the WBC world championship had been fully unified as part of the Undisputed Lightweight championship of the world held by Devin Haney. While it appeared as though Haney and Stevenson were on a collision course for what would be a highly anticipated showdown between two master boxers, Haney will be moving up to the 140lb. Jr. Welterweight division to challenge WBC world champion Regis Prograis on December 9th in San Francisco, CA. Although Haney is still recognized as the Lightweight champion of the world by the WBA, IBF, and WBO as of this writing, the WBC opted to strip Haney of its world championship, which not only broke the undisputed championship at 135lbs., but also created an opportunity for Stevenson to fight for a vacant world championship.
An opportunity that will come on Thursday, November 16th as Stevenson will face WBC number six rated contender Edwin De Los Santos at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. A fight that can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+.
It is hard to ignore the perception of at least some that this fight may amount to little more than Stevenson, a potential all-time great fighter, being able to add another world championship to his resume against a relatively unknown opponent at least in some circles. This fight also comes as a result of the politics that be in the sport in that we have an undefeated former two-division world champion, who is the number one contender, facing the number six rated contender for a vacant world championship.
While this does in some ways put a spotlight on some of the flaws that come with the politics in the sport of Boxing in that number two rated contender Frank Martin is not in this fight, nor are contenders three, four, or five, Boxing is nevertheless as this observer has pointed out numerous times over almost three decades, a sport of opportunity. One has clearly presented itself for De Los Santos.
Who is Edwin De Los Santos one might ask? He is in fairness a top contender, who is the current WBC Continental Americas Lightweight champion, one of the regional championships in the WBC, which more often than not, serves as both an elevator for a fighter climbing the rankings, and a precursor for the fighter holding it to eventually challenge for a world championship. De Los Santos will enter this fight with a record of 16-1, with 14 Knockouts \, having scored knockouts in his last three fights. With a career knockout percentage of over 87%, De Los Santos should be viewed as a dangerous fighter with nothing to lose and everything to gain here.
The question going into this fight is whether De Los Santos will be able to solve the puzzle that is Shakur Stevenson's Boxing style. Stevenson is a crafty and slick boxer who has a good mix of hand speed and punching power. What has made him so dominant is to this point in his career, no opponent has been able to make him uncomfortable, much less hurt him or be able to win rounds during a fight. Although Stevenson has only ten knockouts in his twenty career wins, he is capable of scoring a knockout if the opportunity is there, though some might argue that there have been a few instances where Stevenson might have opted for decision victories rather than pressing to try and get knockouts in some of his previous fights.
Perhaps one wrinkle that some might point to as this fight approaches is this is a rare instance where two southpaws will be facing each other for a world championship. This, at least in theory, removes the theoretical advantages that a southpaw has when they face a fighter that boxes out of an orthodox stance. Nevertheless, the fight plan for De Los Santos comes down to one thing. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure… De Los Santos must find a way to cut the ring off from Stevenson to try and nullify his ability to move and apply pressure on him to set up opportunities to land his power punches. Simply put, if De Los Santos allows Stevenson to be in a position where he can dictate the pace of the fight and find his rhythm early, this may end up as most of Stevenson's previous bouts have, where the only question might be whether he will box his way to a convincing unanimous decision victory or if he might be able to get a stoppage in the middle or late rounds if he presses the issue.
Even though this fight might indeed signal a period of transition for the Lightweight division as one former undisputed world champion might exit the division depending on what happens as he tests the Jr. Welterweight waters in a few weeks by challenging for another world championship, Shakur Stevenson should keep in mind, despite being the heavy favorite and appearing to at least be in a position to become the central figure of the Lightweight division, if he is in any way overlooking Edwin De Los Santos, it could prove costly because unlike his opponent, Stevenson may indeed have everything to lose both in terms of his standing in the sport as well as some potential lucrative fights that could be in store for him in the always talent-deep Lightweight division.
“And That's The Boxing Truth.”
Stevenson vs. De Los Santos takes place on Thursday, November 16th at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The fight as well as its full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 5:40PM ET/2:40PM PT.
ESPN+ is available through the ESPN app on mobile, tablet, and connected streaming devices/Smart TVs. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit: www.ESPNPlus.com.
(*Check your local listings internationally.*)
(*Card and Start Time Subject to Change.* )
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