Shakur Stevenson looked nothing short of brilliant last night in making his long-awaited 135 pound debut (a number of top names wanting no part of it when it came to welcoming the immensely skilled southpaw to the weight division). If there were any concerns about Stevenson carrying his speed and power up with him, these were soon put to rest as the 25 year old took a game but outclassed Shuichiro Yoshino to school before stopping him.
The end came in the sixth round, this after Stevenson has scored a knockdown in round two and another knockdown in round four, the referee then saving Yoshino from further punishment by calling it in round six. Now 20-0(10), Stevenson looked more powerful, stronger, and just better at the new weight. Yoshino, now 16-1(12) entered the fight really believing he would win, but he was never in the fight.
Stevenson, who has held belts at featherweight and at super-featherweight, might be entering his absolute prime. And the man from Newark, New Jersey wants one man and one man only next. For some time, Stevenson has been calling for a fight with Devin Haney. Haney as we know currently holds all the belts at 135, and Stevenson wants them. Badly.
A Haney-Stevenson fight could be a great fight down the road, between two of the most naturally gifted lower-weight operators doing their stuff today. That said, Stevenson says he thinks he would win “easy” if he got his hands on “The Dream.”
“Tell him to come on. I’ve been waiting for this for a long time,” Stevenson said with regards to a fight with Haney. “I swear to God. I’ve been waiting for that for a long time. Me and Devin [have] been in the ring with each other for years. I always got the best of Devin. I think it’s gonna be easy work. I think I’m gonna smoke him. I think I’m gonna shock everybody by smoking him and making it a real easy fight. Everybody is gonna be like, ‘Damn, you is who you say you is.’”
Haney, who faces the formidable task of solving the “Matrix” puzzle that is former champ/former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko on May 20, will almost certainly bite back at what Stevenson has had to say. The two may have sparred many rounds, and it’s not known for sure who got the better of things then, but now, with both men at the top of their game, it would indeed be a huge shock if Stevenson dominated Haney and made it look easy. And Haney will not like hearing what Stevenson has had to say about him.
This one looks like a natural fight to make (both guys are with Top Rank, too, so the fight should not be hard to make as long as both guys want it; and if Haney can continue making 135 pounds). And it could be built up into a genuine super fight. Again, Haney has to get through Loma, and maybe Stevenson will take another fight himself as he awaits the winner. But a Stevenson-Haney fight does seem inevitable, either for this year or for next year.