Shakur Stevenson could soon be the FACE of boxing – Bob Arum
By Kenneth Friedman: Move over Saul Canelo Alvarez because Shakur Stevenson could soon replace you as ‘the face of boxing,’ according to his promoter Bob Arum.
The Top Rank promoter recently told the media that WBO featherweight champion Stevenson (14-0, 8 K.O.s) would be the next Floyd Mayweather Jr, a comment that many don’t agree with. But now Arum is saying that the 22-year-old Shakur will soon be the new ‘Face of boxing.’
Just looking at Stevenson’s last two wins over Felix Caraballo and Joet Gonzalez, he has a long way to go before he takes the top spot from Canelo Alvarez as the #1 star in the sport.
A lot of fans don’t view Canelo as the top guy in boxing, but he’s the #1 guy in the sport in North America. In terms of worldwide appeal, it’s a toss-up between heavyweight champions Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for who is the most popular.
Stevenson looked exceptional last Tuesday, June 9, in stopping Felix Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 K.O.s) in the sixth round at The Bubble at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. In that match, Shakur showed a rare glimpse of power in knocking Caraballo down twice with body shots.
Arum: Stevenson could be better than Mayweather offensively
“I think as the company that promoted Floyd [Mayweather] for over ten years, we saw the progress that he made and the ability that he had,” said Arum to Seconds Out. “And now having done Shakur for 13 or 14 fights, we see a guy defensively on the same level as Floyd, but maybe he’s going to be better offensively.
“I think Shakur being a southpaw gives him an advantage over Floyd because most fighters are used to fighting orthodox fighters, and when they get in with a southpaw, they’re a little flummoxed.
‘When you get them in with a southpaw that is really a master defensive specialist, it becomes very difficult. So I’m really high on Shakur, and I really believe he’s going to be a big superstar in boxing. Indeed, he may ultimately be the face of boxing,” said Arum on Shakur.
Stevenson is a better body puncher than Mayweather, but his power when going to the head doesn’t appear to be as good as Floyd’s was. Mostly, Stevenson jabs when he’s on the outside, so you don’t get to see how good of a puncher he is.
When the 22-year-old Stevenson does throw with power, he’s often at medium to close range. That takes away his power, and he can’t get his whole body behind his shots.
Shakur will gain more boxing fans if he improves his offense, and doesn’t emphasize as much defense. The fighters that are defensive like Guillermo Rigondeaux, they’re not popular. Arum needs to keep that in mind if they want Shakur to become a big superstar.
If Stevenson wants to defensively shutout his opponents, he’ll win most of the time, but the downside is he won’t increase his popularity.
Shakur heading to 130 if he can’t get Warrington fight
“These young people, they grow,” said Arum when asked if Shakur Steveson will stay at 130 after beating Felix Caraballo. “Some people stop growing when they’re 17 or 18. Some people stop growing early. Other people grow into their 20s.
“Now, it looks to me like Stevenson is still in his growth stage, which means that as the months go by, it’ll be more difficult for him to get down to 126. But I think if the [Josh] Warrington fight was available, and the reason it’s not available now is not due to Warrington. [Matchroom Boxing promoter] Eddie Hearn, they would want to do that fight, but obviously, it’s the [pandemic].
“So let’s see how we progress there, and obviously, if the Warrington fight can’t happen in the latter part of this year, Shakur isn’t going to wait around for that fight to happen. He’ll probably campaign in the 130-pound division,” said Arum.
Stevenson might need to make the most to 130 in 2020 because it doesn’t look like his unification fight with IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington will take place this year. For that fight to happen, it needs to be staged in front of a live crowd in the U.K., and the pandemic is going to keep that from taking place.
Fans want to see drama when watching boxing, and that can’t happen when one fighter is trying not to get hit and is mainly jabbing. The U.K. fans are the only ones that are interested in seeing Stevenson fight Warrington.
WBC 126-pound champion Gary Russell Jr. is who the Americans want Stevenson to fight, but Arum doesn’t mention his name. That’s a sign that Russell might be too good for Arum to risk making that fight.
Warrington isn’t in the same talent class as Russell, which is why Arum is eager to make the Stevenson-Warrington fight. It’s one that Stevenson can win.
U.S. boxing fans prefer to see Stevenson move up to 130 and take on these guys:
- Oscar Valdez
- Miguel Berchelt
- Joseph Diaz
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