This sport, the theater of the unexpected, recycles storylines quite often. But this one. the backstory for the main event pitting Shakur Stevenson against Joet Gonzalez at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, in Reno, Nevada on Saturday night, this one was new one for many of us.
Even the long-tooths, we've not seen a situation where one fighter is dating the sister of his foe. Shakur Stevenson (12-0; age 22), from Newark, NJ, has been dating Joet's sister Jajaira for about three years. And that relationship isn't a happy topic for Joet, and his dad/trainer, Jose.
But guess what..back story went out the window, because Shakur Stevenson utterly dominated Gonzalez.
Easy work, it was. Not thrilling to watch, because Shakur was so far ahead of his foe, and he didn't open up all that much. He is a “not get hit-and hit” guy, so he won't be everyone's cup of tea. But is a superior pugilist? Indeed he is; after 12 rounds, the cards were read and not a single soul thought that Joet would get his hand raised. 119-109, times three, one round was given to the loser.
Post-fight, Shakur said after he thinks Joet is tough, and told him so. It was business for him, not personal. And he wants Josh Warrington next, he said. Also, he said that he'd like the Gonzalez family to talk to Jajaira. Pretty cool and classy of Shakur, actually…
Joet (23-0 entering; age 26; lives in CA) admitted in the lead-up that he didn't like Shakur, thinking he was loud and obnoxious when he saw him on the amateur scene.
“I know for a fact Shakur does not love her,” Joet said to journo Mark Kriegel, who fleshed out the soap operatics storyline. He also said he wants to win, because he wants to buy a house for his parents. His dad got emotional speaking to Kriegel last week, saying “I lost my daughter.” She texts him, and he doesn't answer, the dad said.
Jajaira was in Reno, not in the building, and by the way, she's a three time national champ, and wants to make the 2020 Olympics.
This main event on a Top Rank card ran on ESPN+, the OTT platform, direct to consumer.
The WBO featherweight crown, vacant, was up for grabs, for the record. Shakur is the second youngest world champ, behind Devin Haney.
In the first, Shakur was busy, moved well, pinged to the body, and Joet was mostly defensive.
In round two, SS kept pretty close, to start, he wasn't keeping such a distance to indicate he was looking to build up momentum. No, he was looking to fire sharp counters. Joet wanted to fire rights to the body, but he was getting dodged. Was this going to be a shutout fight?
In the third, Joet edged forward, but Shakur was so confident in his foot placement. He was in the right place, when he wanted to be, all the time.
In the fourth, Joet pressed more, but was again short with the jab, and Shakur's movement and risk-averse style meant he'd not be able to get anything going.
In the fifth, same stuff, different round. SS would grin often as he worked, and he has THOSE EYES, that intensity with his vision, signaling his level of focus. To the sixth–SS looked to clinch, tie up, when Joet rushed him. A right from Joey landed, and was maybe Shakur getting a tiny bit fatigued? They rumbled just a bit more, more tired legs meant both men had to throw because they weren't as mobile. After the round, Joet told his corner that he couldn't tire Shakur out. SS is beyond his years in parceling out his effort, he's super smart in his ability to conserve. Joet had some luck connecting in the seventh. The left hook we saw on replay was an obvious scoring blow, and it worked because he backed Shakur on the ropes. Lefts to the bread basket worked repeatedly for the winner.
To the eighth–Shakur got back to his basics, he may have taken the seventh off. His corner asked for left hands, and a hook and slide to make certain he didn't get tagged. In the ninth, we heard Mark Kriegel in the corner say that Jose knows Joet needs to stop Shakur to win. Stevenson had his second wind, and was moving so smartly and persistently, that Joet had no luck or answers.
In round ten, Joet wanted to land a power right–his dad said aim to the neck–but Shakur was ultra slippery. “The future of boxing,” said Tim Bradley, as in round 11, Shakur did more of the same. Round 12 saw Shakur stay smart, not deviate from the plan. To the cards we'd go…
Here is the release Top Rank sent out:
RENO, Nev. (Oct. 26, 2019) — Shakur Stevenson is a world champion. The former Olympic medalist displayed all his boxing skills and completely neutralized Joet Gonzalez (his girlfriend's brother) to conquer the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight title in front of 2,828 fans at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Stevenson became the first Team USA male fighter of the 2016 Rio Olympics to conquer a world title.
“This is a great feeling. One of the best feelings of my life,” said Stevenson. “I have a lot of respect for Joet. He is a great fighter. I have nothing against him. If he decides to be cool with me, I'll be cool with him.”
Stevenson already knows what he wants the next challenge in his career to be.
“Josh Warrington! You are a champion, now I am a champion. Let's do this! I want to unify titles.”
MAYER DOMINATES ZAMORA
Mikaela Mayer, the former Olympian and now one of the biggest attractions in women's boxing, defeated Alejandra Zamora by technical knockout in the sixth round to retain her NABF super featherweight title.
Mayer was the aggressor from the opening bell and connected strong blows looking to finish the fight early, but surprisingly Zamora took everything Mayer threw at her. It was not until the end of the fifth round that Zamora's corner did not allow the Argentinian to continue fighting.
“I am ready for the next challenge. I want a world title,” said Mayer. “I think that for the last two years I have shown that I am ready for a world title. I have shown it by easily dispatching all the fighters that have been put in front of me. I know I'm ready.”
GREER DECISIONS NIEVES
Undefeated bantamweight contender Joshua ‘Night Night' Greer retained his World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental Americas title and captured the World Boxing Organization (WBO) NABO belt by defeating Antonio Nieves by unanimous decision.
Greer, who improved to 22-1-1, 12 KOs, raised the intensity level from the sixth round on and took control of the fight. Nieves dropped Greer in the final round, but Greer recovered without problems and managed to finish the fight.
“I am a champion. I know how to win,” said Greer. “At the end of the day, I go home a winner, and he will go home a loser. I am ready for a world title opportunity. It doesn't matter who they put in front of me, I will get the job done and I will be victorious.”
• Super feather contender Albert Bell (16-0, 5 KOs) dominated Frank De Alba from bell to bell to secure an easy win by unanimous decision in an eight-round fight. CARDS: 80-72 (x3)
• In his pro debut, former Team USA’s top-ranked heavyweight and now highly touted heavyweight prospect Jared “Big Baby” Anderson (1-0, 1 KO) scored a first-round knockout against Daniel Infante.
“I felt great in my pro debut! I took control of the fight and dominated my opponent with my jab right from the very first bell. I got him with a solid body shot and he went down for the count, but if he had gotten back up, I was going to take him out of there quickly anyway.”
• Promising 17-year-old Puerto Rican prospect, Xander Zayas (1-0, 1 KO), dropped Genesis Wynn a couple of times on his way to a first-round knockout victory, in his pro debut. Zayas knocked down Wynn with a quick straight right hand and immediately repeated the dose, forcing the referee to stop the fight at 1:24 of the first episode.
“I felt super great. Even though it was my pro debut, I was very relaxed and focused because I knew we had done the hard work in the gym. I just followed the game plan my team established. I have a great team around me. This is just the beginning.”
• Super featherweight contender Andy ‘El Tiburon' Vences (23-1-1, 12 KOs) bounced back from the first defeat of his career by scoring a unanimous decision victory against Mark Bernaldez. CARDS: 79-73 (x3)
• Former world title challenger Jason Sanchez (15-1, 8 KOs) returned to the winning route by securing a fourth-round knockout against Brazil's Adeilson Dos Santos in an eight-round featherweight match. The end of the bout came at 2:59 after Sanchez sent Dos Santos to the canvas for the count.
• Francisco Esparza Jr. defeated Matt Conway by split decision in an eight-round lightweight contest. CARDS: 76-75 (x2) for Esparza Jr., 76-75 for Conway.
• Mike Sánchez improved his record to 6-0, 3 KOs, and stunned local prospect Diego Elizondo with a unanimous decision victory. CARDS: 38-37 (x2), 39-36
• Reno's own, welterweight prospect J.J. Mariano (2-0, 1 KO) scored a unanimous decision win over Sean Cerveny.