What We Learned from Shakur Stevenson’s Breakout Performance Saturday  



What We Learned from Shakur Stevenson’s Breakout Performance Saturday  

Shakur Stevenson heard the criticism and took charge of his future, on Saturday night in Atlanta pounding Jamel Herring to take the WBO World Super Featherweight title.

You slept on it, now let’s drink coffee and talk takeaways from this title fight.

—-First off, Tim Bradley. According to Stevenson, Bradley’s harsh criticism of him as a boring fighter after his lackluster win over Jeremia Nakathila lit a fire under him Saturday.

Bradley understands boxing competes for attention with all of the other entertainment options out there. Only hardcore fans will watch a technically brilliant fight, and even they need a knockout blast once in a while. Stevenson got the message.

Tim Bradley, keep speaking up and firing up those fighters. Photo: ESPN

—-Slow the shoulder roll. Stevenson’s defensive skills are impressive, especially for a 24-year-old. But he’s not the second coming of Floyd Mayweather just yet, and he really shouldn’t aspire to it. He needs to be the best version of Shakur Stevenson. I’m more excited to see where this takes him.

—-Credit Jamel Herring for providing Stevenson enough of a potential challenge for the younger man to sharpen the saw and take it to the champion. Apparently, Stevenson needs to be pressured to deliver the best version of himself. Are you listening, Brad Goodman?

Shakur Stevenson needed to feel the heat from Jamel Herring. Photo: Top Rank Boxing

—-Herring’s best chance to win the bout was to make it ugly. Think Salido taking it to Lomachenko. Stevenson’s speed didn’t give Herring an opening, and he took so much incoming fire, Herring couldn’t reset. The only round where Herring had any success was in round five, but it was too little too late.

—-After a career-high payday, Herring has taken himself further than anyone expected. He turns 36 next week. He’s developing a promising career as a broadcaster. He has a beautiful family at home in Cincinnati. He made himself into a world champion and that will never change. After fighting for his country as a Marine, and for his own honor in the ring, Herring can and should walk away with pride.

Oscar Valdez delivered a Fight of the Year performance in February against Miguel Berchelt, but his recent performance against Robson Conceição didn't look like a world beater. Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc 

—-Oscar Valdez is ready and the fight can be made, Stevenson needs to get right in there. Forget a tune-up fight or victory lap. Valdez didn’t look so hot in his last fight. Stevenson needs external motivation and he needs to keep the fire lit

——We get the intrigue and allure of the Ali name. But Top Rank isn’t doing Nico Ali Walsh any favors by pushing him out front and center while learning on the job. They need to follow the model followed by the progeny of another famous name, Evan Holyfield. Holyfield has been fighting on regional cards, getting solid experience without the pressure of a national TV broadcast. It showed in his second-round knockout win.

—-Boricua boxing fans have gotten their hopes up over promising talent only to be disappointed. Xander Zayas may be the one to finally deliver for them. Stay tuned.

—-ESPN and Top Rank, we’re begging you. Stop scheduling major fight cards back-to-back with college football. And for the love of our circadian rhythms, stop padding the schedule and get the main event fighters in the ring no later than 11 pm ET. Maybe even 10 pm ET, now there’s a wild concept. UFC is eating boxing’s lunch in part because it doesn’t make fans pound energy drinks to stay awake.

Gayle Falkenthal is an award-winning boxing journalist and the only woman journalist who is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). She is West Coast Bureau Chief based in San Diego, California.