Shakur Stevenson Debuts at 135 in Style

Shakur Stevenson made the move to the loaded lightweight division last night in front of his hometown crowd and did not disappoint. The Newark born two division champion moved up to his third division and stopped Japan’s Shuichiro Yoshino in the sixth round to advance to 20-0 (10) and sent waves through the division in a statement making performance. Yoshino entered at 16-0 (12) and was ranked fourth in the WBC’s rankings at the weight. Shakur has been criticized for being overly cautious and lacking real punch power. Last night he put at least one of those issues to bed. Stevenson promised to stand his ground more in this fight and he did just that. A counter left down the middle floored Yoshino in the second round and the fight was largely target practice. Yoshino to his credit fought courageously and threw punches throughout and never went into survival mode but there was no contest here. A right hook floored Yoshino again in the fourth round and referee Allen Huggins told Yoshino to show him something in between round five and six. Shakur continued to pound away at Yoshino and Huggins jumped in and waved the fight off. Yoshino and his team were not happy with the choice and the stoppage was a let down but it felt like more of a mercy rule stoppage than anything. Yoshino had been completely out gunned, dropped and hurt in every round. I don’t like these types of stoppages but I also believe in fighter safety.

Devin Haney is the fully unified champion at 135 lbs. and all roads go through him. Haney had went a couple of years calling out the cream of the division to come up empty handed but now he has the belts and the best guys have to go to him if they want to call themselves champion. I believe Stevenson should get the first crack at the winner of the Haney vs Vasily Lomachenko fight coming up in May. Tank Davis and Ryan Garcia are also meeting in a big time clash, though it is not at lightweight. Any combination of those guys fighting for the unified title is a great fight. Hell even the losers competing in a consolation type fight would be terrific. Shakur is still growing and looked bigger than the career lightweight in Yoshino. I think he would have serious size on Lomachenko and his speed will keep up with Lomachenko as well. Haney is big and fast and that is a difficult fight to predict. I know they have sparred as well so there is a familiarity there. It is great to see two young kids from the amateurs pan out and even better, be lined up to fight in a major contest.

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