Shakur Stevenson became a two-weight world champion tonight, stopping Jamel Herring in the 10th round to take the WBO junior lightweight title in Atlanta.
The 24-year-old Stevenson (17-0, 9 KO) largely dominated this one, with his speed, skill, and just overall level proving too much for the veteran Herring (23-3, 11 KO), who saw his title reign end just shy of two-and-a-half years.
Stevenson was clearly too fast for the 36-year-old Herring from the get-go, but Herring did try his best to figure a way into the fight. He could never quite get it going, though he did his best to march forward and rough Stevenson up on the inside. The problem then became that Stevenson could more than hold his own on the inside.
Herring, who had swelling for much of the fight, was cut in the ninth round. After the doctor took a quick look at it in the 10th, Stevenson unloaded with some clean shots, and referee Mark Nelson decided he’d seen enough.
Scores at the time of the stoppage were 89-82, 90-81, and 90-81 for Stevenson. Bad Left Hook had it barely closer at 88-83 for Stevenson.
“I feel like Jamel Herring is a great fighter. He’s tough. He’s real tough, he’s got great boxing skills, he’s got great power. I was just the better man tonight,” Stevenson told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “Now that we’re not fighting, I love Jamel Herring, he’s definitely my friend. I don’t got no problem with Jamel. Tell his wife I’m sorry, I don’t want no trouble with you! She’s tough.”
Stevenson said that some media criticism — particularly from ESPN’s Tim Bradley — spurred him on to giving a more entertaining performance tonight.
“I want to thank Tim Bradley. Tim Bradley was criticizing me, calling me boring,” he said. “So I wanted a fun fight. I wanted to perform, show my skills; show my boxing skills, my defense, my power. I showed everything tonight.”
And Stevenson has a predictable next target, a guy he’s been trying to fight since they were both featherweights: WBC titleholder Oscar Valdez.
“There’s only one fight left. It’s the biggest fight in the division,” Stevenson said. “Oscar can’t keep ducking, it’s time for him to fight. It’s me versus Oscar Valdez, there’s nothing else to look forward to, we need to unify the 130 lb division. Let’s get it!”
“He’s sharp. He’s sharp and slick. His hand-eye coordination is very good,” Herring said of Stevenson. “No excuses, he was just the better man tonight. I started slow, but after a while, I can’t do the chess match with him, so I had to bite down and show that grit and push forward.”
“He’s younger, faster — he was sharp. He was sharp tonight,” Herring trainer Brian McIntyre said. “I take my hat off to the whole team over there. I thought he was going to move like other fights, but they had a good game plan. He executed, he got the win.”
“I don’t know (what’s next),” Herring said, and hinted at least a bit that he might possibly call it a career. “I’ll wait and see what happens next.” He urged Stevenson to “take over” at 130 and “keep being great.”
“He’s not a bad dude. He’s a good kid, and that’s why I never took it personal,” Herring added. “I just hope Shakur can continue with what he wants to do, get the bigger fights, and I’ll enjoy being a fan and watching him.”
- Xander Zayas RTD-4 Dan Karpency: We didn’t learn anything new about the 19-year-old Zayas (11-0, 8 KO), but we once again saw why he’s one of Top Rank’s top prospects, one of the best young prospects in the sport right now. He picked Karpency (9-4-1, 4 KO) apart for four rounds, after which a bloodied and battered Karpency told his corner he was done, and I don’t blame him one bit. This was a one-sided rout. Karpency was tough, gave it his best, and his best wasn’t close to working. There was no good reason to do two more rounds of this, because the kid wasn’t slowing down.
- Nico Ali Walsh TKO-3 James Westley II: The grandson of Muhammad Ali has done “The Today Show” and all kinds of big-time mainstream media and whatnot because of his name. But being real, we’re not big-time mainstream media, so for us, he’s just a boxing prospect until he’s actually proven to be a quality pro fighter. Among actual boxing fans, the interest level is just in seeing if he’s got the goods or not. He got hit with some right hands here by Westley (1-1), a 36-year-old novice fighter from Toledo who was absolutely brought in here to lose, let’s not pretend otherwise. His pro debut in June wasn’t stellar, and he was far from perfect here, but he was better, clearly less nervous. He’s got a great team, so if it can happen, it should. But we’ll see. Leave it at that for now. He scored some decent knockdowns in this fight, and it was stopped half-heartedly by Westley’s corner.
- Evan Holyfield KO-2 Charles Stanford: Holyfield is a 24-year-old junior middleweight, thin but tall at 6’2” and has some real whip on his punches. Look, he’s not a blue chip prospect despite the name. He’s 24, he wasn’t some big time amateur or anything, he’s signed with Main Events and got this shot on a Top Rank card because the Holyfield name carries weight anywhere, and certainly in Atlanta. But you can see there is raw talent there, more than you could see out of, say, Shane Mosley Jr or Ronald Hearns at similar points in their careers, with no disrespect to either of those guys. At 8-0 (6 KO), he is still learning on the job and has many steps up the ladder to go, but he’s not a total pretender, either. He was patient looking for the right spot to throw the left hook that finished this one, and he found it and executed, and it was a lovely KO.
- Troy Isley TKO-1 Nicholi Navarro: A body shot pretty much sealed Navarro’s fate here, and then Isley (3-0, 2 KO) just kept throwing measured shots until Navarro (2-2, 2 KO) went down and the fight was stopped at 2:48 of the opening round. This was the first pro fight for Isley, 23, following his trip to Tokyo, where he represented Team USA in the summer. Though he was out before the medal rounds, I liked what I saw of Isley in Tokyo and thought he raised his stock pretty nicely, and he came back in here looking confident and ferocious. It was a mismatch, but he treated it like one, too. That can be an important thing.
- Eric Palmer SD-6 Roddricus Livsey: A nothing fight as far as wider interest goes, in all honesty. Livsey is a 38-year-old local fighter who hopefully brought some fans in for the show, that’s about the only reason to have him on this sort of event against a journeyman like Palmer (13-14-5, 1 KO), who won and clearly deserved the victory, though judge Rocky Young did kick out an absurd 59-55 card for Livsey (8-1-1, 5 KO). Livsey didn’t roll over, didn’t stink out the joint, but the skill set just wasn’t there, and while Palmer is miles and miles from being any sort of contender or anything, he’s a guy who knows his way around the ring and at times made this look easy. I think 4-2 in his favor is fair enough, he did take his foot off the gas a bit in the last two rounds. A 5-1 Livsey card is transparently ridiculous. Absolute nonsense.
- Haven Brady Jr UD-4 Roberto Negrete: A chance for two young fighters to impress Top Rank, basically. Brady (4-0, 3 KO) won on scores of 40-36 from all three judges. Negrete (3-1, 1 KO) deserved the third round, I thought, but other than that I had it for Brady, too. The 19-year-old featherweight from Albany, Ga., is a solid looking prospect, has been on a few Top Rank cards now, has some talent, managed by David McWater. Negrete had only fought on tiny shows in Davenport, Ia., to this point, but he didn’t look totally over-matched or anything here. If he can get some consistency for his career, he could still be something.
- Antoine Cobb KO-1 Jerrion Campbell: Cobb’s pro debut. He’s a Chicago fighter, figures to settle in at 140 but this had a 144 catchweight or whatever. He sparked Campbell (2-2) out in just 58 seconds, landing one monster overhand right that put Campbell’s lights out. Referee immediately saw it was over and stopped it, a clean KO for Cobb.
- Harley Mederos UD-4 Deljerro Revello: Mederos (2-0, 1 KO) is a 21-year-old lightweight out of Brooklyn, has explosiveness but really questionable fundamentals, the sort of young fighter you watch and he’s fun to watch right now, but unless he tightens things up, you can see this guy running into a crafty journeyman type and getting reality checked pretty bad. He dropped Revello (0-2) in the first round and won on unanimous scores of 40-35.