Shakur Stevenson may be the next big boxer. The 24-year-old rising star did clinic against Oscar Valdez Saturday night, using powerful hitting and excellent defense to score a landslide victory and unify the two junior lightweight world titles.
The judges rated the match 118-109, 118-109, 117-110, according to the ESPN broadcast.
Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), after an impressive stoppage-time win over Jamel Herring, is proving once again that he has the ability to beat top-flight veterans. He jabs early on, has good timing in counterpunches and is able to neutralize his opponent’s attacks with ease.
Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), a two-division world champion, had trouble building pressure throughout the match. There will be no controversy in the first defeat of his incredible career.
Stevenson now holds the WBO and WBC world junior lightweight titles. He also won
Ring Magazine junior lightweight championship, and fittingly brought another type of ring with him to the event, when he proposed to his girlfriend after the game.
It was truly the night of a younger fighter, as he dominated his game. successful opponent.
Stevenson has a bigger frame and longer reach, and makes good use of those advantages. He consistently shoots jabs, keeping Valdez from getting close. When he does jab, Stevenson can follow it up with clever combinations. Other times, he used it to find distance against Valdez and set the right time to counterattack.
Facing that difficult jab, Valdez had to be creative. From the start, the 31-year-old Mexican didn’t quite move, and Stevenson had a bit of trouble managing him. In the third round, Valdez brought more side-to-side movement, and it paid off. He marked Stevenson with 15 strokes, the most he’s absorbed in any fight to date, according to the ESPN broadcast. Some of the best shots, including some good body shots, came after Valdez was able to get his front foot out of the left and unleash a powerful punch.
Movement and aggressive style backfired for Valdez in the sixth round. Stevenson sent an unbalanced Valdez into the ropes with a right hook then marked it again with a quick shot to score the knockdown. Valdez wasn’t happy with the call, but his swollen face and wobbly legs told a different story.
By the time of the knockdown, it was clear Stevenson had the better tactics. He was able to time Valdez’s strike and score with a sharp power shot. Threats from his left hand sometimes paralyze Valdez, as he remains in a defensive position and becomes an easy target in midfield. Stevenson mixes up his attacks, using jabs, top punches, and level changes. His defense was also very good, pulling back from Valdez’s strokes and sending him off balance on the counter.
Even though Stevenson was in control of the fight, he never did anything reckless. Valdez has proven himself dangerous in the next round; he scored an epic KO to Miguel Berchelt in February last year as a heavy underdog. Stevenson made sure he didn’t suffer the same fate. Valdez was able to break through from time to time with his aggression, but Stevenson had the answer for almost anything.
After the fight, Stevenson said he wanted to be the undisputed champion at 130 pounds. As of now, Roger Gutierrez is the WBA champion, and Kenichi Ogawa holds the IBF belt. Either boxer will struggle to come up with an answer for Stevenson, who seems to improve with each fight.