I still have a few things to say about Shakur Stevenson’s beyond-awful sleepytime showcase last week. So, with eye boogers still in the corner of my eyes from my great extended nap, shall I pile on?
-- Shakur Stevenson unified boxing fandom in sleepy disgust late last week with his tepid, boring, and stylistically constipated decision win over Edwin de los Santos to claim the vacant WBC lightweight title. Nothing more needs to be said about this low-output, ultra-crappy showing-- everyone’s already taken their whack at that engorged piñata. I will say, though, that Shakur has no excuses to make. If he was injured, he easily could’ve called off the fight. It’s not like the world was eagerly awaiting this bout. And, well, at least for me, once a fighter makes the decision to go ahead with his fight, he has no right to claim that an injury impeded his performance. Shakur must own that shitty showing.
The kid is still very much “for real,” but I hoped he had learned his lesson about having to entertain and actually dominate, rather than “just win.” If he wants to ever be a crossover star, he needs to fight with some degree of urgency. This ain’t the amateurs. When he faced Jamel Herring and Oscar Valdez in 2021 and 2022, respectively, and dominated both, he looked to be on the right track. After this last fight, he’s clearly regressed.
-- By the way, I took a leap of creative faith in doing the Shakur fight recap over at my personal site, The Boxing Tribune. I wrote it up as a children’s bedtime story in rhyme, titled: Goodnight World: A Shakur Stevenson Bedtime Story. Give it a read when you can. It’s a fun one:
-- I’d be remiss in not pointing out that his promoter Bob Arum/Top Rank certainly didn’t do him any favors with the way this fight was scheduled and generally put together. If you’re serious about building the star power of a young fighter, you’re not going to have him taking the ring after midnight, on a weeknight, in an arena that’s two-thirds empty. I know that some of that bad decision making could be attributed to ESPN’s needs and demands, but this is not the first case of Arum/TR dropping the ball (and generally looking clueless) when it comes to building present tense stars. They aren’t really building Shakur as much they're selling media and hardcore fans on spreading the word among themselves. For a long time now, that's been the thing with Arum and Top Rank. They don't do outreach as much as they try to stir the same pot over and over. They definitely still have a knack for reaching the hearts and minds of establishment boxing media, but that’s not enough anymore. Nobody takes to heart what the old school boxing media says these days. They need to reach the people and make the fights accessible to those people.
-- As for that “most feared” narrative Top Rank has been using to “promote” Stevenson? It’s not working. It’s not getting him any degree of fan support or fan interest, mostly because those they’re accusing of being scared are either well above him in terms of bankability (Tank Davis) or fighters the general public doesn’t really care all that much about, at least in terms of fighting him (Lomachenko, Haney, Martin, Zepeda, Pitbull Cruz). The “most feared” hustle only works if the “scared” fighter is a true star, like Canelo (vs. Golovkin) and Mayweather (vs. Margarito, Pacquiao, etc.). The best bet for Shakur is to stop trying to clout chase by attaching his name to others and simply go out and destroy his opposition every time he gets in the ring.
-- Oh yeah, one more thing about Shakur’s “most feared” hype. How much you wanna bet that this media narrative changes entirely when/if he leaves Top Rank when his contract is up next year?
-- Those few Shakur/Top Rank apologists trying to put a positive spin on Thursday night’s/Friday morning’s shit show have tried to tie his all-defense showing to defensive masters like Pernell Whitaker and Floyd Mayweather. Nope. If you truly think Whitaker and Mayweather fought anything like Shakur did against de los Santos, you’re either a very new fan in need of education or you have absolutely no idea what you’re watching.
The numbers tell the tale. In terms of action, Stevenson-de los Santos just barely edged out the universally panned Guillermo Rigondeaux-John Riel Casimero from 2021, with seven more total punches thrown and just fourteen more total punches landed.
There was no “mastery” in this fight, unless it was in the area of curing insomnia.
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