Paulie Malignaggi feels that Shakur Stevenson will have pressure on him to make it entertaining in his fight for the vacant WBC lightweight title against Edwin De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) on November 16th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) is competing with Gervonta Davis to be the star in the 135-lb division, and he can’t do that if he makes it boring like some of his fights in the last three years.
Although Shakur did make it interesting in his last fight against the highly ranked Shuichiro Yoshino last April, this wasn’t an elite-level guy. It was a fighter with a ranking with the WBC that was probably higher than it should have been.
It’s going to be difficult for Shakur to make it a non-boring fight against De Los Santos because his fighting style his entire amateur and pro career has been defensive in the Guillermo Rigondeaux mode.
Top Rank boss Bob Arum seems more tolerant of Shakur’s fighting style than he was of Rigondeaux, but they’re two of a kind. Rigo was more exciting to watch than Shakur because he was willing to take risks.
The only difference is Rigondeaux had power and would stand in the pocket and look to knock out his opponents. He was excellent at making his opponents miss, and this likely was the reason Arum felt he wasn’t entertaining.
Shakur is like Rigondeaux but far more defensive-minded, using his pull-back method to avoid getting hit and possessing no power.
So, for Shakur to become a star like Tank Davis, he’s going to have to be more aggressive, stay in the trenches, and battle his opponents instead of the pot shot style that he’s been using.
“I think this is one of those dangerous fights where people don’t know the opponent that well, but the guy is better than people are going to assume,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Probox TV about Edwin De Los Santos, who battles Shakur Stevenson for the vacant WBC lightweight title.
“I could see this being a risk because De Los Santos is a southpaw, and he’s a puncher. This is Shakur Stevenson’s third weight class. If a guy who can punch in the weight class is starting to land on you, it may bother you a little more.”
This fight can be risky for Shakur if he chooses to trade with De Los Santos rather than play it safe, which is what a lot of boxing fans are expecting him to do.
“Also, Shakur is a master at distance,” said Malignaggi. “That’s one of his best assets. He stays right on the thread, right on the line, and he knows how to enter and be just outside of it without really running.
“So, he sort of is a guy that is right in front of you, but you still can’t hit him. I think we all agree that Shakur Stevenson is THE guy in this weight class. I think he’s the guy and a future star in boxing overall.”
If Shakur is “the guy,” it’s being done on guesswork because he’s not beaten anyone other than Shuichiro Yoshino, who was more of a bottom fringe-level lightweight in terms of talent.
For Shakur to become the #1 fighter at 135 in the true sense, he’s going to need to defeat ALL of these fighters:
George Kambosos Jr.
If Shakur doesn’t beat every one of these guys, you can’t say he’s “the guy” at lightweight.
“But it’s also in the manner of how he’s going to have to win fights like this,” said Malignaggi. “It’s the manner in which he approaches it. He’s kind of in a contest with Gervonta Davis for stardom. Gervonta Davis has that stardom in his own fashion.
“He’s got that swag, he’s got that punching power, and he’s got that kind of excitement value. Shakur is just very, very good. There’s not that punching power. He shuts you down so much that sometimes, he makes the fight boring to the layman.
“How is he going to beat a guy like this, who is very, very dangerous punching power-wise, but at the same time is a guy that is not really known,” Malignaggi said about De Los Santos.
“He [Shakur] has to look good in this fight, but it’s not an easy fight to look good against,” said Malignaggi.
“We wanted Frank Martin, and we wanted Tank Davis, but this is the stand-in. Honestly, it’s not a bad fight,” said Chris Algieri about the Shakur vs. De Los Santos fight.
“It’s going to be a nice test to see what Shakur can do with that based on how he’s been performing recently. I paid a lot of attention to Edwin De Los Santos’ last fight against Joseph Adorno, who’s very, very solid and Edwin looked awesome.
“He was defensively sound; he showed good power and great conditioning. So, in terms of him being ready for a step up like this, I think this is probably a great time for Edwin. Will it be enough? We all know that I’m a big Shakur guy. I think his style is the style to beat in those weight divisions.
“Let’s see how far Shakur is in his development and getting into his maturity because now he’s starting to break guys down, he’s starting to walk guys down. If he can do that against De Los Santos, it would be very, very impressive.
“Listen, De Los Santos is a big puncher; he’s a southpaw. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Shakur goes out there and is a little more safety first, uses his jab and legs, and dominates,” said Aligeri.
“It should be easy work, but this is more or less a barometer, and I think it’s for PBC,” said Tim Bradley. “As you know, Edwin is a PBC fighter. I don’t understand why we can’t get the Tank-Shakur Stevenson fight.
“Well, I do understand financially. It’s Shakur Stevenson. You don’t want to take a risk against a guy of his caliber nature. I just think it’s a barometer to see if Shakur can handle another southpaw. A guy that has punching power like De Los Santos does a guy that can hurt Shakur at any moment.
“We’ve been seeing Shakur Stevenson as of late, walking forward, staying in the pocket. When you stay in the pocket and exchange, you’re vulnerable to getting hit. You’re there to get hit.
“It’s an interesting match-up. Depending on how Shakur fights this fight, it can be easy work if he uses his legs to stay on the outside. But if he stands there and trades with this guy, it can be extremely dangerous for him. So, we’ll see how he approached this fight,” said Bradley.