Bob Arum: Shakur Stevenson will be ‘The Face of Boxing’
By Barry Holbrook: Bob Arum is convinced that his fighter Shakur Stevenson will be “The Face of Boxing” at some point in his career, but it’s going to require him to make big changes in his game.
The three-year professional Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs) has already captured one world title at 126, and he’s poised to win his second at 130. The real test for Shakur is when he takes on fighters with power that will force him to slug with them.
One of the prerequisites to becoming the ‘Face of Boxing’ is for a fighter to have an exciting style of fighting.
Currently, Canelo Alvarez is seen as holding that position. Stevenson, who has a safety-first style of fighting, will need a complete style makeover for him to become the top guy in boxing. Style-wise, Stevenson will need to change his DNA, and become a slugger and stop focusing on his defense.
Arum says Shakur better than Mayweather
“Shakur Stevenson, mark my words, will eventually be the Face of Boxing,” said Bob Arum to IFL TV. “He is a tremendous talent, and at this stage of his career, is better than Floyd Mayweather was at the same stage.”
The Top Rank promoter Arum maintains that the 23-year-old Stevenson is better than Floyd Mayweather Jr was when he was at the same age back in 2000.
That’s a bold statement by Arum, as Shakur hasn’t shown the same exciting style that Mayweather Jr did early in his career when he was in his early 20s.
The problem that Arum and Top Rank has with Stevenson is his lack of power, and his inability to score knockouts when facing decent opposition. Stevenson has very little power, and he’s not blazing fast like Mayweather was.
Early in Mayweather’s career, he was able to make up for his lack of power by being a vicious combination puncher. Most of Mayweather’s knockouts came early on in the first seven years of his career when he fought at 130 and 135.
“We promoted Floyd for ten and a half years. So I’m really thrilled with Shakur, and I like the people around him, his trainer, his grandfather, the manager. Everyone is working together to make Shakur the superstar that he will be,” said Arum.
In order for Stevenson to ‘Face of Boxing,’ as Arum is predicting, he’s going to need to change his fighting style to be more fan-friendly.
Shakur needs to change how he fights
Since it’s not reasonable to assume that Shakur’s power and hand speed will improve, he’s going to have to become a combination puncher like Mayweather was early on.
Also, Stevenson will need to stay in the pocket more and slug with his opponents if he wants to win over fans.
In other words, Stevenson can’t keep jumping back each time his opponents look to throw a punch at him. Stevenson puts too much emphasis on his defense, and that makes him quite boring to watch.
Stevenson is an excellent fighter, but he needs to put his punches together more. He throws too many pot-shots, and he’s going to have a hard time when he eventually faces WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt.
It’s going to force the judges to decide whether to give more weight to Berchelt’s harder shots and combination punching than to the weaker pot shots that Stevenson is throwing.
If Arum wants Shakur’s popularity to keep increasing, he needs to keep him away from fighters that will expose his lack of power by steering him away from Berchelt, Teofimo Lopez, and Gervonta Davis. Those guys will highlight the flaws in Stevenson’s game and show that’s not an exciting fighter to watch in comparison to them.
There’s a very good chance that if Stevenson does beat Berchelt, it’ll be a controversial decision.
That’ll hurt Shakur’s popularity, and foil Arum’s vision of him being ‘The face of boxing’ Stevenson won’t be able to take the spot as the most popular fighter if he’s not able to conclusively beat exciting fighters like Berchelt.
Fans want to see action-fighters
“Style-wise and ability-wise, maybe Shakur Stevenson. The way that he boxes is made for longevity,” said Dave Coldwell to skysports.com on which U.S fighter can become the next Mayweather.
“But the only problem for Stevenson, if he wants to break out into the mainstream, is that people might not take to his pure boxing displays, rather than a bit of an exciting tear-up.”
Stevenson is eventually going to grow into the 147-pound division, and it’s going to be difficult for him to impress boxing fans in the U.S if his focus is on his defense.
The average fan in the United States wants to see their fighters mix it up and go to war. That’s why Stevenson and Terence Crawford haven’t become stars yet. They’re both too defensive-minded, which makes them boring to watch compared to fighters like Errol Spence.
For Stevenson to become the top star in boxing, he’ll need to fight like these guys:
- Errol Spence
- Gennadiy Golovkin
- Canelo Alvarez
- Julio Cesar Martinez
- Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez
- Manny Pacquiao
- Teofimo Lopez
- Vergil Ortiz Jr
- Jose Ramirez
- Gervonta Davis
- Ryan Garcia
Arum is arguably pushing the wrong guy in his Top Rank stable to become the Face of Boxing. Teofimo Lopez has a much better chance of taking the top spot in the sport due to his fighting style.
Shakur ‘fencing style’ of fighting must change
Stevenson has almost no chance of becoming the Face of Boxing. If anything, Stevenson might be the next Terence Crawford in terms of being rated highly by the stat freaks and nerds that put together pound-for-pound lists.
The fighters that the stat freaks place at #1 in the pound-for-pound lists rarely are commercially big-money fighters. Vasily Lomachenko and Crawford have been rated at #1 and #2 in the pound-for-pound lists for ages, and yet neither of them are fighters that bring in a lot of money.
Stevenson is already following in Crawford’s footsteps with his defensive style getting him rated highly. With that said, Stevenson isn’t becoming super popular, and he’s not likely to become the face of boxing during his career.
If the fans suddenly change their taste for what they like to watch, Stevenson might rise to become the face of the sport. I doubt it, though.
He’s got a style of fighting that resembles fencing with swards, which is common in amateur boxing but boring to watch in the eyes of many fans.
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