Like the great ones, Shakur Stevenson made a potentially tough fight look easy on Saturday night, when he all-but shut out a game but outclassed Oscar Valdez over 12 hugely impressive sessions. The speedy southpaw won almost every round, if not every round, in the opinion of plenty of observers, yet the new WBC/WBO 130 pound champ had to make do with lopsided cards that managed to award Valdez with a couple of rounds. The victory was nevertheless complete, with Stevenson scoring a knockdown in round six.
For some time now, 24 year old Stevenson has been telling us he is the best in the world, the next superstar of the sport. Plenty of fans have climbed onboard due to the sparkling performance and display Stevenson gave in Las Vegas on Saturday. A star is born? Stevenson is “The New Floyd Mayweather?” The comparisons are inevitable, as are the expectations. Stevenson, with greatness firmly in his sights, has to now go on and hit the bullseye.
Already proven to be the best super-featherweight on the planet, Stevenson may well have to move up in weight in order to secure his defining fights, his testing fights (although Stevenson has said he wants to become undisputed champ at 130). Already a two-weight champion, Stevenson, at 5’7,” is tall enough to go up again. And more importantly considering the depth of talent at 135 pounds, Stevenson is good enough to do so. Supremely gifted to the point of almost intolerable arrogance (one of Stevenson’s biggest challenges might prove to be that of keeping the fans on his side, rooting for him, not rooting against him), Stevenson is fast, he is smart, he has great balance and though he is no big puncher he can do damage with his razor-like shots.
Currently 18-0(9), Stevenson’s career has in a way only just got going, at the highest level at least. Valdez was, on paper, his toughest challenge yet Stevenson won with ease. There will be tough nights to come, there simply has to be, but judging by Saturday’s smooth as silk display of boxing brilliance, there is nothing at all to suggest Stevenson’s talents will not pass these tests also.
How great can Shakur Stevenson become? Right now, this seems to be a question only he can answer. It will be interesting to see how long it is before Stevenson makes the move up to 135 pounds – and maybe, we hope, into fights with the likes of George Kambosos Jr, Devin Haney, Vasiliy Lomachenko, Tank Davis, Ryan Garcia and others.
That’s when the real fun will begin.