Shakur Stevenson won as dominant a decision as you can see in boxing but still came away disappointed last night in Las Vegas. The Newark, New Jersey born twenty-three year-old Olympic Silver Medalist won the boxing match but may have lost in the court of public opinion. On one hand, Stevenson won the fight 120-107 on all three scorecards, scored a knockdown, and only got hit with twenty-eight punches in twelve total rounds of boxing. On the other hand, he only landed 114 punches despite having totally outclassed his Namibian opponent from start to finish. Going in this fight was largely viewed as a showcase performance with Top Rank Promotions already looking to go ahead with Stevenson against WBO titleholder Jamel Herring. However, the show was never put forth as he failed to knockout Nakathila or put him in much danger as the crowd was pretty subdued during the action. Stevenson himself was dissatisfied with his own performance during the post fight interview:
To be honest, I didn’t really like my performance,”. “I felt I could’ve performed a lot better.Shakur Stevenson: https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/31622246/shakur-stevenson-rolls-jeremiah-nakathila-win-interim-junior-lightweight-title
Online there is a mixed bag of opinions from boxing fans who either appreciate the defensive skill or loathe the low offensive output. Being a Jersey guy I will be up front with my bias and say I am a Stevenson fan and largely appreciated the skill and poise he showed in the ring. I will say that his performance is not going to attract a more casual viewer and plenty of hardcore aficionados want to see more. Stevenson is a defense first fighter and if his opponent is content to shell up and survive he will pick his spots and cruise to a decision victory. When his opponents decide to open up they create opportunities to score off of like he did with a counter right hook to score the knockdown in the fight. Nakathila had a larger frame and entered with seventeen knockouts in his twenty-one wins and though he was unable to find the target, Stevenson fought very aware of his power. Throughout the fight Stevenson was very impressive at identifying and controlling the range in the fight and used his lead right hand to probe his opponent and occupy his left hand. This adept right hand defense took Nakathila’s jab completely out of the fight and led to him blindly trying to land singular bombs. Stevenson remained aware of everything coming his way and was rarely caught in the fight. Stevenson largely scored with a very accurate straight left to the head. He scored a hard left cross in the opening round that set the tone in the fight. Some observers are criticizing Stevenson’s punching power but I feel it was enough to keep Nakathila at bay and given the way he reacted to being hit by the left I feel the fight does not go the full twelve with a sustained offense from Stevenson. I guess at this point the blame game begins for what occurred in the ring. Do we blame the fighter who is behind for not doing more to stage a comeback? Or do we blame the fighter in total control with the superior craft to demonstrate that superiority by putting a stamp on the fight?
I am not ready to call Stevenson a boring fighter but he certainly is safety first and with his defensive craft he will remain very safe in the ring against most out there. There have been many other cautious boxers who drew dissatisfaction from fans only to be dragged into wars with fighters who could bring the best out of them. Fighters like Emmanuel Navarrete, Oscar Valdez and Jamel Herring will all be able to take the fight to Stevenson. The question is how does the defense hold up against elite fighters and how does he react to getting hit