Stevenson – Clary, Berlanga – Sierra & Verdejo – Nakatani – weigh-in results
By Barry Holbrook: Shakur Stevenson, Felix Verdejo, and Edger Berlanga all made weight on Friday for their respective fights this Saturday night on ESPN in ‘The Bubble’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Super featherweight Stevenson and Toka Kahn Clary are fighting in the main event on the card.
(Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)
The start time for the action on ESPN & ESPN Deportes this Saturday for the Stevenson, Verdejo, and Berlanga card is at 10:00 p.m. ET.
Super featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) weighed in at 130-pounds for his 10-round fight against his second-tier opponent Toka Kahn Clary (28-2, 19 KOs). For his part, Clary, 28, weighed in at 129 lbs.
Top Rank has its work cut out for them
Stevenson’s lack of punching power and his focus on not getting hit have resulted in many dull fights for fans. On social fans have complained about how boring Stevenson is to watch and how he’s weak and too defensively focused.
Unless Stevenson develops power and is willing to put himself in the firing line of shots, he’s not going to become a superstar no matter how hard ESPN and Top Rank push.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Top Rank promoter Bob Arum can turn Stevenson into a star given his lack of speed, power, and charisma.
Stevenson doesn’t have the Teofimo Stevenson star quality. It’s also difficult for some people to understand what Stevenson says at times because when he talks, it sounds like he has a mouth full of food.
Although the New Jersey native Stevenson is just one state away from the New Yorker Teofimo, he’s not as verbal as him.
A lot of East Coast fighters are great talkers, but not Stevenson. He doesn’t have the charisma or gift of gab that Teofimo possesses, and his power and speed are light years behind the New Yorker.
Shakur taking a tune-up
Stevenson is using Clary as a warm-up to get him prepared to face the winner of the Jamel Herring vs. Carl Frampton fight. #1 WBO is confident that he’ll defeat the Herring-Frampton winner to capture the WBO super featherweight title.
Once Shakur has that belt, he plans on taking on WBC champion Miguel Berchelt for his strap.
Stevenson needs a big win over the likes of Berchelt, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, Leo Santa Cruz, or Vasiliy Lomachenko to take his career to the next level because he’s not progressing with the mediocre opposition that his promoters at Top Rank are matching him up against.
But the good thing is, Stevenson is still young at 23, and he still has time to be slowly built into a start. However, Top Rank can’t use the same 12-year approach to Shakur’s career that they’ve done with Crawford because that guy still isn’t popular due to the many years of lackluster match-making.
Sometimes fighters can take the backdoor approach to become stars by fighting lesser opposition to impressing the unknowing casual boxing fans.
It didn’t work with Crawford though, as he’s not a star, and it’s failed to work with Stevenson as well. He’s treading water while fighters like Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, and Tank Davis are soaring him to build huge fan bases.
Other weights on Saturday’s card:
- Lightweight contender Felix Verdejo (27-1, 17 KOs) weighed in at 135 pounds for his 10-round fight against Masayoshi Nakatani (18-1, 12 KOs). Nakatani also weighed in at 135. This fight should be a good test to see how Verdejo does against a fighter that gave Teofimo Lopez a lot of problems in 2019. Lopez beat Nakatani by a 12 round unanimous decision in July 2019, but the fight proved to be a difficult one for him. Nakatani landed a lot of shots in the fight, and he prevented Teofimo from landing his big punches. The scores were 118-110, 119-109, and 118-110. Nakatani will be coming off of a year and a half layoff when he gets in there with Verdejo on Saturday.
- Super middleweight contender Edger Berlanga (15-0, 15 KOs) weighed in at 169 pounds for his eight-round fight against Ulises Sierra (15-1-2, 9 KOs). Berlanga is looking to score his 16th straight first-round knockout, which would be a big accomplishment if he can pull it off. Sierra weighed in at 167.5 lbs.
“I feel comfortable at 130,” said Stevenson to Max Kellerman. “I think a lot of people look at all the lightweights and 135-pounders when they talk about the future of boxing.
But I think I am the best fighter and the future of our generation. I know I got a real fight in front of me,” said Shakur about his opponent Kahn Clary.
“And I watched tape, and I know he’s a real fighter and isn’t coming in there to lose. I take him really seriously, and I take him as a threat,” Stevenson said of Clary.
The boxing public might disagree with Shakur about him being the best fighter of the new generation. What fans view as the best are exciting fighters like Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia, and Tank Davis.
Stevenson is similar to the light-hitting Devin Haney in terms of power, speed, and fighting style. Haney isn’t an exciting fighter to watch, and Stevenson appears to be heading down the same path.
Shakur wants Frampton then Berchelt
“I’d rather fight Frampton, he’s the bigger name and the bigger draw,” said Stevenson when asked which of these two he’d like to fight next.
“I’m cool with Jermell. I don’t mind fighting him too. Business is business, but I’d rather fight Frampton. We definitely want Jo Jo Diaz, that’s definitely going to happen, but we definitely want the #1 in the division.
“After we get the WBO [from the Jamell Herring vs. Carl Frampton winner], we want the [Miguel] Berchelt fight.
“That fight makes the most sense. He’s #1 in the division, and I’d have two belts and I’d make myself #1 in the division once I do that.
“I just got to box my fight,” said Stevenson when asked how he’d beat a volume puncher like Berchelt. “I feel like I’m a way better boxer. At times, you’ve got to fight with Berchelt too.
“He’s a fighter at heart. He’s going to force you to stand there and fight a little bit. I just feel like I’m going to outbox him and be the smarter guy when we fight. He’s bigger. I think he’s one of those fighters that is real big, but I’m not small for the 130-lb weight class.
It would be shocking if Stevenson beats MiguelBerchelt, because the Mexican star has more power, throws more punches, bigger, and has a lot more experience. Berchelt checks every box when it comes to his advantages over Stevenson.
Shakur: I’d beat up Lomachenko
“I disagree that just because Teo was bigger [he was able to beat Vasily Lomachenko],” said Shakur. “With that fight, I think it had a lot to do with heart. I feel like Lomachenko is a great fighter.
“I feel like he didn’t have a heart that night to dare to be great. A fighter that don’t dare to be great and don’t have the heart, I don’t feel they have a chance with me.
“I don’t think it would be good for him to come off that loss and get right back in the ring with Shakur Stevenson.
“I feel like I’m going to go in there and beat him up,” said Stevenson in predicting that he would defeat Lomachenko.
“Because he has a heart problem, you can’t go into a fight for six rounds straight and not throw no punches at all.
“I don’t think that shows heart. You have to dare to be great. And you have a power puncher in front of you, a great fighter also.
“You have to step in the lion’s den, and I think he was afraid to step inside the lion’s den. With Lomachenko, they’ll say that Teofimo just beat him, so I won’t get a lot of credit for it.
“When they’re talking about the big names down the line, I’ll say Tank. I feel like me and Tank is going to be the big fight down the line.
“I think Tank is a hell of a fighter, a big power puncher, and I think we’re going to be how Errol and Terence is and have to clash,” said Stevenson.
A healthy Lomachenko likely beats Stevenson, and he could make it look easy. Lomachenko is a lot better fighter than he showed against Teofimo Lopez. Loma was injured for their fight on October 17th, and he was also facing a 140-pounder.
Berlanga targeting Canelo and Benavidez
“We was starting at 160 and I moved up to 168. I’m making the weight perfectly fine,” said Edger Berlanga.
“If he’s going to survive the first round, we’re going to see tomorrow night,” Berlanga said about his opponent Sierra.
“I train for 12. We’re looking at the bigger picture, looking at the bigger dogs, which is Canelo Alvarez, David Benavidez.
“These are the type of guys that we want to fight in the future. So I prepare myself or 12 rounds no matter what regardless of the fact that I’m knocking everybody out in the first round.
“Saturday night is going to be an amazing night tomorrow, and I’m ready for it. We work really hard. I just finished an eight-week camp, and I just finished a fight on October 17th.
“There was a lot of things I worked on during this camp, and I’m 100% ready for it. Right now, it’s opponents,” Berlanga said about him not being able to find opponents to fight him.
“We have to pay for opponents now. A lot of guys aren’t going to step in there and spar with me getting pounded for rounds. They’re going to want to get paid. I’m going to get through this fight with a big victory, and then I’ll be back in March.
“We’re going to have an amazing camp, and we’ll be looking to fly a couple of fighters out, and pay them for the whole camp to get that work in. Felix Trinidad, that’s my idol. I was with him about a month ago in Puerto Rico,” said Berlanga.
Will Canelo still be at 168 long enough for Berlanga to get a fight against him? Canelo is very selective in the type of guys he fights, and if he doesn’t like his chances against Berlanga, he’ll be ignored like David Benavidez and Caleb Plant.
Edger Berlanga wants to be the highest-paid athlete
“We’re looking to get in a huge, huge fight against Canelo Alvarez,” Berlanga said. “He’s the big money guy right now, but in two years, I’m going to be the big money guy.
“I want to be the highest-paid athlete in the world, and that’s what we’re shooting for. We’re looking for a big fight against Canelo Alvarez.
“That’s going to be Mexico against Puerto Rico at 168. Of course,” said Edger Berlanga when asked if he wants his first big title fight to be against Canelo rather than another fighter.
“We got to get through this fight on Saturday night. Next year, we’re going to get a couple of step-up fights.
“We’re going to destroy a lot of people that people think I can’t destroy, and we’re going to call out the top dog.
“But with that being said, I want to make sure I got my throne. I don’t need nobody to sell out the MSG or to sell out a fight card because of another fighter.
“I’m going to be that fighter that I can sell out any arena, and that’ going to happen. I just got to keep winning and keep building my brand and keep building myself up and testing myself until I get to that level.
“June is the big fight. We’re going to be headlining at MSG, God willing the vaccines and everything. It’s going to be a big night with Puerto Rico Day weekend in New York,” said Berlanga.
For Berlanga to become the highest-paid athlete in the world, he’ll need to step it up against better opposition. The guys that Top Rank is putting Berlanga in with aren’t going to turn him into the highest-paid athlete, and they should have already stepped him up against better fighters.
It’s embarrassing that Berlanga has knocked 15 straight fighters in the first round because that tells you that the Top Rank match-maker has dropped the ball.
He should have made adjustments already in the guys that Berlanga is facing to learn from each fight and improve his stamina.
Berlanga isn’t going to improve knocking guys out in the first round. Above all, Berlanga should be the one that is on his promoters’ case to have them put him in with better fighters because he’s spinning his wheels against the fodder they’re feeling him.
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