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Shakur Stevenson vs. Jeremiah Nakathila – preview & prediction

Shakur Stevenson

By Chris Williams: Shakur Stevenson will be facing the big punching #2 WBO Jeremiah Nakathila tonight on ESPN for the interim WBO super featherweight title at the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Nevada. Stevenson-Nakathila will be televised on ESPN at 10 pm ET / 7 pm PT.

Stevenson cannot afford to put in another boring safety-first performance like we’ve seen from him in his last three fights.

There’s a high probability that Stevenson will win the fight but turn off the fans by being overly defensive and not being entertaining.

It will help Shakur’s career if he gets dropped two or three times in the process of winning this fight. If he makes it dull like his last three fights in beating Nakathila, it won’t be good for his career.

Top Rank head honcho Bob Arum wants Stevenson to challenge WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring next. It would be better for Shakur and the fans if he nixed that idea and instead targeted WBC champion Oscar Valdez.

If Stevenson faces Valdez, he’ll be forced to show some offense if he wants to have a shot at winning; Stevenson won’t beat Valdez, throwing his typical pitty-pat punches and making grunting noises to try and impress the judges.

Shakur needs to make it exciting

Unfortunately, the way Stevenson talks outside of the ring doesn’t match how he fights inside it. Shakur sounds like a knockout artist when he’s not fighting, but his fighting style is sleep-inducing when he’s in action due to his 100% focus on not getting hit.

Boxing and are already beginning to complain about the 2016 Olympian Stevenson being painfully boring to watch with his safety-first style of fighting.

Tonight, the 23-year-old Stevenson needs to show that he’s capable of staying in the pocket without darting away each time Nakathila looks at him wrong.

The winner of the Stevenson vs. Nakathilla will be in a position to challenge WBO 130-lb champion Jamel Herring for his title if he doesn’t vacate it.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum is predicting superstardom for the light hitting Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), but that not happen if Nakathila starches him tonight.

Even if Stevenson wins, he could bore the fans to tears if he puts in another dull performance like his last two fights at 130 against Toka Kahn Clary and Felix Caraballo.

Stevenson may stop Nakathila on the inside

“It’s a good fight. I think Shakur Stevenson has too much for the young guy,” said Tim Bradley to Fighthype about Shakur’s fight tonight against Jeremiah Nakathila.

Shakur Stevenson

“Nakathila is a guy that you got to get up for. You got to get up for anybody to get in the ring. He’s one of those guys who come from overseas; you don’t know much about him.

“Not a whole lot of clean footage on him. I could see that he’s aggressive. I can see that he’s a little tall, a little rangy, likes to use the right hand.

“He’s a one-two type of fighter. He [Nakathila] sits down on his right hand. If that thing lands, it’s deadly.

“Shakur, he has too many skills. He’s a southpaw. He can fight on the outside; he can fight in close now. He’s gotten super comfortable on the inside now.

“I see him eventually taking the fight to the inside and possibly even stopping him. I would hope that he stops a guy like Nakathila. Anyway, I think he [Stevenson] should stop a guy like this; he has to.

“He’s [Shakur] not a big one-punch knockout type of guy, but the thing is, Shakur, if you have all those facets in your game, you can take it to the inside, you can take it to the outside, you can hit a guy at will.

“Defensively, they can’t touch you,” said Bradley about Shakur. “You can get close to him, and he still can’t touch you defensively; you can land your shots on him,” said Bradley.

It’s highly doubtful that Stevenson will take the chance of fighting Nakathila on the inside because the chances of getting walloped by the Namibian fighter will be too high.

Bradley sounds like he hasn’t watched many of Stevenson’s fights to know how he avoids getting hit at all costs, and he would never stand in close against a knockout artist like Nakathila.

What we’re going to see tonight is Stevenson standing on the outside, throwing one punch at a time, and dashing away each time Nakathila looks to land one of his shots.

In other words, it’s going to be a safety-first fight for Stevenson, and he’s not going to fight him on the inside.

Will Shakur make Nakathila quit?

“You can break him down mentally and even have guys quit on the stool,” said Bradley about Stevenson possibly making Nakathila quit.

Shakur Stevenson

“Lomachenko was one of those guys that were able to do that,” Bradley continued.

“So that’s the level I want to see Shakur get to where he’s actually breaking these guys down mentally, breaking their will, and have them literally quit on their stool because it’s too much for them to handle.

“You don’t have to be a one-punch knockout type of guy. No. Break these guys down, take their will, take every weapon away from them and leave them with nothing.

“Stuck in their corner with their cup on, that’s it. Take everything off of them. If he [Stevenson] does that, I think it’ll boost him.

“A lot of people talk about him [Shakur] not having too much punching power and this and that, and he’s not much fun to watch. He’s sitting down more on his punches now, absolutely.

“His right hand is deadly; that’s his strong hand. When he lands that right hook, that’s the punch he’s looking for.

“I think the Jamel Herring fight will be a really good fight,” said Bradley about Stevenson taking on WBO super featherweight champion Herring next.

“I think they’ve sparred in the past. I think Shakur understands what he can do against Jamel Herring.

“He knows that he has more tools than he does, and he knows he can outbox him. Jamel will be game to fight anybody, I’m sure.

“I think Jamel will want to fight [Oscar] Valdez instead, come on. He puts his belt on the line, and he puts his belt on the line.

“But I think he [Herring] can’t go around Shakur because he’s his number one mandatory for his belt.

“So he has to either face him or give it [WBO 130-lb title] up and go up in weight at 135 and contend there,” said Bradley.

Nakathilia isn’t going to quit, no way. This guy is not a quitter. He’s the type of guy that will go out on his shield while trying to take Stevenson out with every punch he throws, and he’s not going to give up.

Stevenson might hit the deck if he gets tagged squarely by Nakathila in this fight, as this guy can punch like a welterweight. If he catches the overconfident Stevenson cleanly, he will go down. The only question is whether Stevenson will be able to get up or not to continue fighting.

Bradley picking Shakur to beat Nakathila

“It’s a really good fight,” said Bradley when asked if Stevenson can beat WBC 130-lb champion, Oscar Valdez. “Valdez, you can never really count him out; he’s a winner.

Shakur, the same thing; he’s a winner. We’ve never really seen him [Stevenson] in the ring with someone that is smart.

“He’s pretty darn smart. He’s [Valdez] a two-time Olympian, a guy with punching power in both hands, a guy that is trained by [Eddy] Reynoso.

“He’s kind of evolved into a boxer/puncher instead of just a slugger. He [Valdez] showed great legs and grit in his fight against [Miguel] Berchelt.

“I think it was a perfect style match-up for him to look really impressive. He had a guy that was coming straight in, coming straight forward. I thought he [Berchelt] was going to be able to overpower him.

“But back to the [Stevenson vs. Nakathila] fight,” Bradley continued. “I would personally favor Shakur.

“He’s a lot smarter [than Nakathila]. It’s going to take a guy that’s a lot smarter than he is to beat him or a guy that’s just reckless that kind of fights off timing to give him fits.

“Someone that is reckless, off rhythm, awkward, has punching power that can get his respect, that’s not going to allow him to be comfortable with what he’s doing.

“It’s going to take a smart warrior to beat a guy like Shakur Stevenson. Valdez, maybe that guy, I don’t know. I don’t think so.

“He’s a little shorter guy, but you can never count him out. You can never count Valdez out.

“He’s a tremendous warrior, a tremendous fighter. I respect him,” said Bradley.

It’s not all that surprising that Bradley, an ESPN commentator, is picking Shakur to win this fight. After all, Stevenson is one of the ESPN house fighters, so it’s not surprising to Chris Williams that Bradley is picking him to win.

Prediction

Stevenson will win a boring 12 round decision over Nakathila tonight. We’ll see Shakur take some chances early, but once he gets a taste of Nakathila’s power, he’ll go into the defensive mode and play it safe the rest of the way.

It would be a good idea for the fans to have a good pot of strong coffee brewing tonight so that they can stay away during the Stevenson vs. Nakathila fight because it could get boring.

 




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