Shakur Stevenson: The next Adrien BRONER or Mayweather?
By Chris Williams: Top Rank and ESPN have recently been comparing the 22-year-old Shakur Stevenson with a young Floyd Mayweather Jr., but a better comparison at this point is with Adrien Broner.
It’s unfair of ESPN and Top Rank to compare Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) with Mayweather because that’s putting too much pressure on him at this early stage of his career.
Although Stevenson has already captured his first world title in winning the WBO 126-pound belt last October in beating Joet Gonzalez, he’s not mixed it with the good featherweights. Gonzalez is just a contender and not considered one of the better ones.
That may seem a little harsh, but Stevenson hasn’t shown the same kind of talent or the hand speed that Mayweather possessed at the same age. Stevenson looks more like a young Broner, who, at the same age at 22, captured his first title in winning the WBO super featherweight belt in 2011.
Adrien Broner has set a high bar for Stevenson
Broner went on to win four-division world titles, which is an impressive accomplishment. If Stevenson can even win two division titles, that would say a lot about his talent. It’s not easy to do that.
If you compare how Broner looked in 2011 to the way Stevenson is looking now, you have to conclude that Shakur isn’t on the same level as ‘The Problem’ was back then. Broner looked incredible, and he was at the time viewed as ‘The NEXT Mayweather.’ What went wrong? Well, fame for starters. Broner made too much money early on, and the outside of the ring distractions sidelined his career success.
“Shakur is a future star in the sport of boxing, a future superstar. I look at him as the southpaw version of Floyd Mayweather, and I think he will exceed the performances by Floyd. I just think he’s a rare, rare talent,” said Stevenson’s promoter Bob Arum last week during the Telephone news conference.
Arum is getting a little carried away in comparing Stevenson to Mayweather. If Stevenson can do half as well as Broner has done in his career, he can call himself a success. The lack of power from Stevenson is going to make it difficult for him to move up beyond the super featherweight limit.
A lot of tough fights ahead of Shakur
If the lightweight division clears out with Ryan Garcia, Tank Davis, Teofimo Lopez, and Vasily Lomachenko moving out of it, Stevenson can probably win a belt there. It’s hard to see Shakur beating any of those guys because they hit too hard and have better hand speed than him.
For Shakur to get to the level he needs to, Top Rank will need to be willing to put him in with the best. They can’t match him the same way they’ve done with Terence Crawford and expect that Shakur will turn into the next Mayweather. Look at Crawford. He’s been a professional since 2008, and the best name on his resume is Yuriorkis Gamboa.
If Stevenson still hasn’t fought anyone good by the time he’s Crawford’s age at 32, it’ll probably be too late for him to be the next Mayweather. At that point, Stevenson might not even achieve what Broner has. Stevenson’s hand speed isn’t going to improve as he gets older, and the same goes for his reflexes.
Broner was a better fighter in 2011 than Stevenson is now, and it’s not even close. Adrien was an incredible talent when he fought at 130 and 135. His career didn’t start going downhill until he moved up to 147 and made the mistake of fighting Marcos Maidana and Shawn Porter.
Stevenson will have it tough at 140 and 147
Top Rank promoter Bob Arum believes Shakur will wind up at welterweight and maybe even junior-middleweight in the future. If Arum turns out to be correct, it’s going to be hard for Stevenson. He doesn’t possess the fastest hands, and his power isn’t there.
Unless Stevenson hits the weights seriously to try and develop his man-strength, his venture into the 147 and or 154-pound weight classes will end up as his Waterloo. Throwing Stevenson in the ring with Jermall Charlo, Terence Crawford, or Errol Spence Jr. would be a disaster for him.
Broner continued to have success, but he hit the ceiling when he moved up to 147. It’s easy to imagine that Shakur will struggle in the same way if he chooses to move up to welterweight the way Broner did. Moreover, Stevenson may not even do as well as Broner because he doesn’t have the power now that Broner had when he fought in the lower weight classes.
If you look at the way Broner was knocking guys out in 2010 and 2011, he looked like a better fighter than Stevenson is now.
Stevenson is fighting this Tuesday night against Felix Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. This is supposed to be a fight where Stevenson makes a case for him being the next Mayweather, but that’s ridiculous. Caraballo isn’t even a contender. He’s a non-ranked-level opponent brought in for Stevenson to fight behind closed doors without a live audience.
Stevenson has a lot of guys he needs to beat
The guys that Shakur Stevenson will need to beat for him to be viewed as the next Mayweather are these fighters:
- Errol Spence Jr
- Jermell Charlo
- Miguel Berchelt
- Josh Taylor
- Oscar Valdez
- Shawn Porter
- Manny Pacquiao
- Gary Russell Jr
- Vasily Lomachenko
- Teofimo Lopez
- Ryan Garcia
- Gervonta Davis
- Devin Haney
- Jose Ramirez
- Regis Prograis
- Vergil Ortiz
The reason you have to include all those fighters for Stevenson to beat is that Mayweather captured five-division world titles after starting his career at 130. While it’s excellent that Shakur has won his first world title at featherweight in beating Joet Gonzalez, he’s got to start beating the quality guys.
Gonzalez isn’t quality. Shakur can’t beat lesser guys and then proclaim himself as the next Mayweather, and the talking heads at ESPN shouldn’t enable him. They shouldn’t call Stevenson the next Mayweather when the best name on his resume is Joet Gonzalez, a fighter that more of a fringe level guy than a top ten contender.
To show how far away Shakur Stevenson is from Mayweather, he’s not talking about wanting to fight any of those guys. He’s interested in facing IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington, who is arguably the fourth-best champion at 126.
Shakur wants Josh Warrington
“I don’t like comparing myself to Floyd [Mayweather] — I let everybody else do that — but I think that fight [against Warrington] would be like Floyd vs. Ricky Hatton,” Stevenson said.
Fighting Josh Warrington is a low hurdle for Shakur, and you need to wonder why he’s picking that soft touch. If Shakur is another Mayweather, why isn’t he calling out WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr? Would Mayweather be satisfied in facing the fourth-best 126-pounder if he was Stevenson’s age? No, he wouldn’t. If Mayweather were 22, he’d be going after Russell Jr, and he would be a paper champion like Warrington.
Stevenson is doing himself no good for him to be playing along with ESPN and Top Rank with the Mayweather comparison. He needs to realize that they’re trying hard to turn Stevenson into a star by hyping him, which is the shortcut way to turn a fighter into a star.
In other words, instead of Stevenson having to build himself into a star the old fashioned way by beating the talented guys like Tank Davis, Josh Taylor, Charlo, Russell Jr., and Ryan Garcia, they’re hyping him to superstardom. That’s the backdoor route to turning a fighter into a star. You have the talking heads build the fighter up without the needing to beat anyone.
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