Shakur Stevenson goes Saturday night cruising over Nakathila
SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 12, 2021 – Undefeated junior lightweight Shakur Stevenson of New Jersey (16-0, 8 KOs) remained unbeaten with a unanimous decision victory over Jeremia Nakathila of Namibia (21-2, 17 KOs) at the Virgin Hotel in Las Vegas. Fueled by a flash knockdown on a right hook at the end of round three, scorecards read 120 – 107 X 3.
Stevenson wins the vacant interim WBO junior lightweight title for his effort, and an expected title shot as the mandatory challenger for WBO junior lightweight champion Jamel Herring. Herring and Stevenson both say they would prefer to face WBC junior lightweight stablemate Oscar Valdez instead.
Sporting a mouse under the eye Stevenson said made him look tougher, he said “To be honest with you, I didn’t like my performance. He (Nakathila) was an awkward, awkward fighter. He knows how to grab and get away.”
Stevenson won a shutout on the scorecards, just as he did in his last fight against Toka Kahn Clary six months ago. But if you don’t recall any highlights from that bout, you won’t recall any from this one in a matter of weeks. Boos bubbled up from the crowd in the 11th round as Stevenson seemed too cautious to do more than potshot from the outside, too worried about taking a punch until he got to the final bell.
Stevenson said he tried to press the action “a little bit, but I started getting hit with some solid shots and I didn’t like. I’ll work on moving my head a little bit more.”
This is the problem facing Stevenson and his promoter as he works his way up the ranks. There was more action in Friday’s exhibition fight between the retired Marco Antonio Barrera and Jesus Soto Karass. Props to those Mexican warriors.
Defensive fighters can deliver fans if they have some kind of allure, like a big personality (Floyd Mayweather) or complete dominance (Andre Ward).
It’s true boxers should strive to hit and not get hit. But fans would rather see an action fight between offense-minded contenders. Nonito Donaire’s knockout of Nordine Oubaali, Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzalez, Josh Taylor, and Jose Ramirez… shall we continue?
WBC junior lightweight Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt put on a Fight of the Year. WBO junior lightweight Jamel Herring delivered a powerful performance, stopping veteran Carl Frampton. Should either be the A-side against Stevenson?
“If I had the choice, I’ll take Oscar Valdez,” said Stevenson. “But if I had to beat up Jamel Herring to get to him, I’ll do it. Whatever route they give me … At the end of the day, it was an awkward fighter. Not every fight is going to be a good performance. I think they love me I heard a lot of cheers. They’re picking me up and I appreciate it.”
Herring was ringside for the fight and was diplomatic about Stevenson’s performance. “I thought Shakur did what he had to do. At times I thought he should have pushed it. He could have stopped him, but he played it a little too safe. At the end of the day, a win’s a win.”
On being Stevenson’s second choice of opponent, Herring brushed it off. “I don’t take anything personally. I’m mature. I’ve been through a lot in my lifetime. This here is what I love to do. That’s just boxing talk to me. The one thing that really matters at the end of the day is to let the first do the talking. I’m here to accomplish my dream and do my job.”
What Herring and Valdez understand, and Stevenson needs to learn is that wins aren’t necessarily enough to make you a star. Stevenson should get some lessons from popular MMA fighters who have losses but still drive pay-per-view dollars, such as Jorge Masvidal who’s lost 15 fights. Even Conor McGregor has five losses.
“Shakur needs to understand he needs to take risks,” said ESPN commentator and former world champion Tim Bradley, who knows something about crowd-pleasing action himself. “Taking risks is a necessary thing in this business.”
Pedraza pressures Rodriguez to retire in eight rounds
In the co-main event, former world champion Jose “Sniper” Pedraza of Puerto Rico (29-3, 14 KOs) delivered steady, relentless pressure until Julian “Hammer Hands” Rodriguez of New Jersey (21-1, 14 KOs) took enough accumulated damage, his corner stopped the fight after round eight. Rodriguez was unable to see through swollen eyes. It might not have been explosive or flashy, but Pedraza’s hard work is the stuff that wins fights. Pedraza was a solid step-up for Rodriguez, who had no answers for the veteran performance.
Undercard results: Hot prospects Zayas, Isley get their victories
Easy as one two three for welterweight prospect Xander Zayas (9-0, 7 KOs), getting his ninth victory by TKO at 1:02 of the third round against Irish lightweight Larry Fryers (11-4, 4 KOs). Zayas worked methodically and steadily behind his jab, mixing in body punches, hooks in combination, and then scoring with both right and lefts to the head. A left hook to the chin as Fryers dipped down to meet it was the cage-rattling shot eventually causing referee Celestino Ruiz to stop the fight. Fryers was still on his feet but the end was inevitable and didn’t need to pile on any more punishment.
Middleweight Troy Isley got his second pro win on his way to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with a late TKO at 2:26 of the final fourth round over LaQuon Evans (4-2, 2 KOs). Isley (2-0) delivered a solid performance, exactly what he’ll need to do in Japan. Although Isley dominated Evans, he was not especially hurt and deserved to finish the fight on his feet, but referee Russell Mora thought otherwise.
Manual Rey Rojas of Dallas (20-5, 6 KOs) pulled off the upset over Tyler McCrary of Toledo (16-2-1, 7 KOs). McCrary had hoped to get back on the winning track after a loss in November 2019 to Carl Frampton before the pandemic, but Rojas put on too much pressure, and combined with the ring rust, McCrary only won a single round on one scorecard (80-72 X 2 and 79-73 for Rojas).
John Bauza (16-0, 6 KOs). made it a good nice for the Boricua boxers, scoring a second-round TKO over Christon Edwards of Houston (12-3, 6 KOs). It was Bauza’s first knockout in four years.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist covering the Sweet Science for Communities and for boxing fans worldwide. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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