Shakur Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) defeated #2 WBO Jeremiah Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs) by a less than thrilling to watch 12 round unanimous decision to capture the interim WBO super featherweight title on Saturday night at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
In the fourth round, Stevenson knocked Nakathila down with a hook. He wasn’t hurt, as it was more of a balance thing.
The referee played a significant part in making the fight unwatchable with his constant warnings given to Nakathila by telling him to watch his feet. Occasionally, Nakathila would step on Stevenson’s feet when would step forward to load up on his right hand.
The constant reminders from the referee seemed to unnerve Nakathila, appearing to make him uncomfortable with throwing shots. The warnings from the referee seemed strange because fighters step on each other’s feet.
It’s unclear how much of a factor the warnings had in the fight. I’ve never seen a referee put as much focus on feet like this one.
The scores were 120-107, 120-107, 120-107. Nakathila fought well enough to win the first round, but after that, it was all Stevenson the rest of the way.
Both guys threw very few punches, as they seemed afraid to get hit, particularly Shakur. He got nailed by a right hand to the head from Nakathila in the fifth round, and from that point on, it was pure defense.
With the victory, Shakur is now the mandatory for WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring. Top Rank boss Bob Arum says he wants that fight to happen next.
However, Stevenson has been making a big deal this week about wanting to take on WBC 130-lb champion Oscar Valdez next.
That might be a bad idea on Stevenson’s part because Valdez has power in both hands, and he’s not afraid to use it. Stevenson doesn’t have enough pop in his punches to do well against Valdez, and the same goes for Herring. The chances are high that Stevenson loses to both Herring and Valdez.
Stevenson, 23, got the win, but his stock is likely to drop badly with this performance because he was cautious and afraid-looking after he got nailed by a couple of hard shots from Nakathila.
It would be interesting to know what Top Rank promoter Bob Arum thought about Stevenson’s performance. Years ago, Arum used to comment about how HBO brass didn’t like Guillermo Rigondeaux’s fighting style, saying it was.
Well, Rigondeaux is an exciting fighter compared to Stevenson. I’m not just talking about tonight’s performance by Shakur. He fights like this all the time. This wasn’t an anomaly from Shakur. I hate to say it but Stevenson’s fighting style is terribly boring and hard on the eyes.
Unfortunately, there’s not much Top Rank can do about it because Stevenson has been fighting this way since his amateur days.
That’s one of the reasons he was beaten in the Olympics by Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba. Ramirez was more courageous and let his hands go, which is all it took to beat Shakur.
Top Rank is going to need to make sure they keep Shakur away from guys like Oscar Valdez because he doesn’t match up well with him, and even against Miguel Berchelt, who lost his last fight.
The Berchelt that we saw against Valdez would still likely beat Shakur. Berchelt’s jab is just as good as Stevenson’s, and his power is so much better.
In the co-feature bout, Jose Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) beat Julian Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs) by an eighth-round stoppage. That fight was easily the best on tonight’s card, as it had excellent two-way action. This would have been an excellent main event fight in place of the albatross that we saw tonight.