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Shakur Stevenson toughening up for Jamel Herring fight on Oct.23

Image: Shakur Stevenson toughening up for Jamel Herring fight on Oct.23

By  Chris Williams: Shakur Stevenson is toughening up for his title shot next month against WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring on October 23rd by sparring with former WBA light welterweight champion Regis Prograis to get him ready.

This is an important fight for Stevenson because he needs to look against the 35-year-old Herring if he wants to build his fan base. It’s not enough for Stevenson to win ugly in a defensive fight.

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Herring is going to be putting it on Stevenson, forcing him to fight rather than run as he did in his last fight.

He’s got to look good because he’s been getting dumped on by fans for his painfully dull fighting style, which is arguably far worse than that of Gullermo Rigondeaux.

After being heavily booed by boxing fans during his last fight against Jeremia Nakathilia on June 12th, the unbeaten Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) is going to need to be less defensive-minded if he wants to become a star.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur’s emphasis on the art of hit-and-not-get-hit has made him incredibly boring to watch.

You can argue the reason Stevenson lost in the Olympics to the Cuban Robeisy Ramirez is that he was too defensive, and not willing to trade.

Shakur only had himself to blame for his loss because he lacked the aggression that Robeisy showed, and the Olympic judges weren’t going to give it to him based on his non-proactive style of fighting.

Shakur not worried about impressing fans

I don’t really care too much about [impressing] the fans because one day they love you, the next day they don’t. I’m going to please myself,” said Shakur Stevenson to DAZN.

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“Usually I put on a performance that I feel good about it,” said Stevenson about his recent fight against Jeremia Nakathilia last June. “I didn’t feel as sharp as I usually felt. It was like an off night for me.

“Even though I dominated, it just ain’t feel like the type of night that I prepared for or wanted. Mainly, I didn’t like my own performance,”  said Stevenson.

The fact that the fans were booing Shakur suggests that he’s not the only one that didn’t like his performance against Nakathilia.

After getting shaken up by a jab from Nakathilia early, Stevenson was on his bike virtually the last nine rounds of the fight, making the contest unwatchable.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time that Stevenson has fought in this manner. He fights this way all the time unless he’s matched against poor opposition.

Thus far, Stevenson’s fighting style is difficult for the average fan to watch because he’s unwilling to stay in the pocket, and constantly darting backward after throwing a punch.

Will Prograis toughen Shakur up?

When Stevenson’s opponent moves forward to throw, he moves away rather than meeting them to engage.

Against Nakathilia, Stevenson was constantly retreating backward after throwing a shot so that wouldn’t get hit. It was like watching the sport of fencing.

Although Floyd Mayweather Jr. found great success during his career using his fencing style of fighting, he was more willing to stay in the pocket than Stevenson, and he was fun to watch at times.

In contrast, Shakur hits and moves away, and it’s not nearly as interesting.

“It’s been great sparring [former WBA 140-lb champion Regis Prograis],” said Stevenson. “He’s a bigger guy. He’s built bigger, fights at 140. You got to respect Regis. He’s a tough, rugged fighter,” said Shakur.

Yeah, you have to respect Prograis because he’s fun to watch, and he’s not someone that is just focused on not getting hit like Stevenson. Prograis is entertaining, which is what Shakur should be striving to do with his career.

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum used to complain about how boring Rigondeaux was to watch, but he’s far more entertaining to watch than Stevenson in this writer’s view.

It’s interesting that Arum isn’t complaining about Stevenson yet, but he could end up doing so if he keeps fighting the way he’s been.

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