Tim Bradley says Shakur Stevenson could be the successor to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
By Chris Williams: ESPN talking head Timothy Bradley is proclaiming WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson as the successor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. after just 13 pro fights.
Bradley notes that Shakur is challenging to hit with shots, and he views him as a Mayweather-esque type of fighter. However, it’s still so early to compare him with Mayweather.
Stevenson could be the successor for Terence Crawford, but NOT Mayweather in this writer’s view. Shakur isn’t exciting enough and he’s too slow and he doesn’t do much on offense. He treats his opponents like their KO artists, and he’s too cautious.
If you like watching pure boxing, then Shakur is your cup of tea. But if you want to see the excitement and knockout performances, he’s not going to give you that.
Stevenson is just starting out, and his promoters at Top Rank have been feeding him with the typical low-level opposition that you see with any fighter that turns pro. In other words, Stevenson isn’t being brought along tough the way Vasiliy Lomachenko in being put in with talented right off the bat. Lomachenko fought Orlando Salido in his second pro fight. Stevenson has fought no one near Salido’s level.
Some boxing fans think Bradley’s compliments of the Top Rank promoted Stevenson is because he works for ESPN, and he fights for the network. The praise that Bradley is giving Shakur would seemingly mean more if he were a commentator for Fox or DAZN instead of ESPN.
Bradley, who is an analyst for ESPN, believes that the 22-year–old Stevenson could be the awaited replacement for Mayweather Jr. (50-0, 27 KOs), who walked away from the sport in 2017.
Bradley complimenting Shakur Stevenson
“Look, I’m looking forward to boxing coming back,” said Bradley to ESPN’s State of Boxing. “I’m actually looking forward to Shakur Stevenson. He could be Mayweather’s successor.
“Why? 13-0, okay, he’s a world champion, and he’s one of those guys that’s so hard to hit. He’s a master at a distance, reminding me of Floyd Mayweather Jr.” said Bradley.
The southpaw Stevenson recently won the vacant WBO featherweight title in beating Joet Gonzalez last October. Stevenson hasn’t fought anyone good enough to make comparisons to Mayweather or any boxing great for that matter. Shakur has been facing mostly marginal opposition, and Gonzalez was a step for him. Stevenson beat Gonzalez, but a lot of boxing fans saw it a dull performance.
The problem is, Stevenson lacks punching power and doesn’t have blazing hand speed like Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya used to. Stevenson is more of a pure boxer with excellent technical skills, but he lacks the power and speed to obliterate his opponents the way Mayweather and Oscar did at the early point in their careers.
The 2016 U.S Olympic silver medalist Shakur will be fighting 2nd tier fighter Felix Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs) this month on June 9 in behind closed doors on ESPN at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. It’s a stay busy fight for Stevenson against a non-contender to keep him in the public mind, but not against a quality opponent.
Hitting Stevenson would be difficult
Fans wanted to see Stevenson fight IBF 126-pound champion Josh Warrington, but Top Rank has been unable to negotiate a fight between them. Warrington is instead going to face WBA secondary featherweight champion Can Xu next. If a battle between Stevenson and Warrington is going to happen, it’ll need to wait
“And I have to say this. If I was in my prime today and if I had to fight this young man, it would be horrible because I couldn’t get close to hit this young man,” continued Bradley with his compliments for Shakur. “He’s one of those guys that’s just so hard to hit and he’s fantastic to watch.”
In looking at Stevenson’s fight against Joet Gonzalez, he was getting hit by him. What made Stevenson look so good in that fight was the fact that Gonzalez’s hand speed was glacially slow, and he was head-hunting the entire battle.
He should have known from watching Steveson’s loss to Robeisy Ramirez in the 2016 Olympics that the way to beat him is to attack his body. Stevenson is easy to hit to the body, but Gonzalez failed to attack him there.
“The only two guys that were younger than Shakur [to capture an Olympic medal] De La Hoya and the aforementioned Mayweather,” said Mark Kriegel of ESPN. “The difference is, at this juncture in their careers, Shakur is actually more difficult to hit then Mayweather.”
Shakur needs to raise his game
You can say that Stevenson is a heck of a lot more defensive than Mayweather was during the early portion of his career. Mayweather was willing to stand in the pocket, which is why he was fascinating to watch. Mayweather didn’t mind getting hit from time to time.
He wanted to entertain his fans rather than bore them, which you can argue Stevenson does. He’s not entertaining to watch like Mayweather or Oscar De La Hoya when he was in the early stage of his career. In terms of entertainment value, you can’t compete Shakur Stevenson with a young Mayweather or De La Hoya.
For Stevenson to become the successor to Mayweather or De La Hoya, he needs to focus on his offense more and stop focusing on his defense. Stevenson’s game is too heavily slanted on the defensive side, but that keeps him from being the entertainer that Floyd and Oscar were.
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