Suppose you were on the fence about Shakur Stevenson’s potential. In that case, Stevenson erased all doubts as the 2016 Rio Olympian defeated Oscar Valdez last night to become a two-title world champion.
Stevenson landed a unanimous-decision victory with judge’s scores of 118-109, 117-110, and 118-109. Now the 24-year-old holds the WBC and WBO junior lightweight championship.
“I’m a superstar in this sport,” said Stevenson during the post-fight interview. “You line ’em up, name ’em, I’m ready for whoever.”
Beat Valdez, Canelo And Eddy Reynoso
The sold-out crowd in Las Vegas was pro-Valdez, and his teammate and mentor, boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez, also was in attendance. However, as Stevenson piled on the boxing barrage, Valdez and the crowd quickly realized it would be a long night.
“I told y’all what I was going to do. I said I’m going to be beat Valdez, Canelo, and Eddy Reynoso,” Stevenson said in the post-fight interview. “That was my game plan, beat the whole team, and I feel good about it. Much respect to them, no disrespect to them, but that was my game plan.”
Stevenson controlled the fight from the outset, keeping Valdez covering up and looking for the big shot while being picked apart by Stevenson’s jab and counter-left. The southpaw made Valdez constantly overextend, and Stevenson capitalized on his mistakes.
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) May 1, 2022
The momentum stayed in Stevenson’s favor when he dropped Valdez in the sixth round with a right hook-right hand double up that sent Valdez off balance to the canvas.
Ever the warrior, Valdez persisted throughout the night, never capitulating to Stevenson’s offensive sharpness. Still, his body language in the later rounds expressed his respect for Stevenson’s talent level. Stevenson jumped off his stool before the start of the round for almost every round of the championship affair.
“He was just the better fighter this night,” said Valdez in the post-fight interview. “He did what he had to do to win the fight. He’s a great fighter. His speed is there, power is there.”
The Road To Redemption
Valdez had many skeptics in the boxing world from his failed drug test ahead of his last fight against Robson Conceição last September. It has left a haze over the legitimacy of his career.
“I’m not a cheater. Never have been. Never needed it,” Valdez said last September to ESPN. “A lot of people saying, ‘You’re a cheater. You’re using steroids. You came back positive.’ It’s just, it’s heartbreaking for me.”
Now Stevenson advances and can either push to become undisputed, a trend occurring among this generation of fighters. Roger Gutiérrez currently holds the WBA junior lightweight belt, and Kenichi Ogawa has the IBF strap.
“Any of the champions, I might go collect all the belts at 130 (pounds) become undisputed, Stevenson continued. “I deserve to be a superstar, so this is what I’ve got to do.”
— ESPN (@espn) May 1, 2022
A Star Is Born
However, Stevenson might have plans to move up to the talent-rich lightweight division. Currently, Australian George Kambosos is the unified lightweight champion, and he is slated to face WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney, for the undisputed championship on June 5 in Melbourne.
Still, Stevenson sees an opportunity there.
“Devin is definitely a huge fight for me; Devin is a hell of a fighter, I have nothing but respect and love, but we can line it up in the future too.”