By Allan Fox: Shakur Stevenson says he plans on systematically breaking down WBC super featherweight champion Oscar Valdez on April 30th and knocking him out in their main event on ESPN+ at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
WBO champion Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) says he’s going to outbox WBC belt-holder Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) and totally outfuddle the the 31-year-old former two-division world champion next month.
Shakur revealed that he’s still deciding whether to stay at 130 after he defeats Valdez, as he’s thinking of moving up to 135 and chasing the important fights in that weight class.
He’d like to fight WBA ‘regular’ lightweight champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis one day. The best way for Stevenson to ensure that he accomplishes that goal is to move up in weight as soon as possible to the 135-lb division because Tank might outgrow the lightweight division or choose to seek greener pastures.
Shakur says he might stay at 130, though, to become the undisputed champion in the division. For him to do that, he’s going to need help from his promoters at Top Rank to setup fights with the IBF and WBA champions.
If it’s going to take too long for those fights to get made, it would be better for Shakur to move up to 135 rather than waiting two to three years to become undisputed champion.
Stevenson’s promoter Bob Arum said this week that it’s a waste of time to become undisputed champion. It would be a good idea for Stevenson to listen to Arum, because he knows what he’s talking about.
Unless you’re a fighter with no marketability, it’s better to focus on going after the biggest fights available rather thanputting the time and energy to become the undisputed champion.
Stevenson may move up to 135
“Who’s to say those guys are still around? We already saw that Teofimo took a loss. We don’t know what the circumstances will be in that weight class by the time we get there,” said Shakur Stevenson to Fight Hub TV when asked if his superstardom will remain elusive until he moves up to 135 to fight the popular guys in that weight class.
“A lot of them are talking about going to 140,” said Shakur about the big names at 135. “I honestly believe that me and Tank will be the biggest fight in boxing one day.
“If he keeps continuing the path that he’s on and I continue on my path [we’ll eventually fight],” Stevenson said.
It sounds like Stevenson has already convinced himself NOT to go up to lightweight to take on the top guys like Tank, Ryan Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr.
As long as Stevenson recognizes that the fighters that he’ll be facing at 130 are far less popular as the ones he would be fighting at 135, he can live with that decision. He seems a little odd unless Shakur is harboring self-doubt in his mind that he can find success at 135.
In that case, staying at 130 is right where he needs to be to avoid the considerable risks in the lightweight division.
Right off the bat, Stevenson could lose to Tank and Lomachenko in back to back fights if he fought them right now at 135.
With Ryan Garcia’s one-punch power and hand speed, he might KO Shakur with a single shot. Staying at 130 will keep Shakur safe from harm from those dangerous fighters.
“As far as skills out of all of those guys that are still there [at lightweight] and with me and him, I feel like me and him will be the most exciting, the most action-packed type of fight and I feel like I’m going to win that fight too,” said Stevenson about a fight between him and Tank.
“I need to focus on Oscar Valdez right now. I’m comfortable at this weight  right now. Maybe in my next fight, I’ll go up and try and take all those belts from Lomachenko or [George] Kambosos. We’ll see.
“It’ll depend on how I feel. I could jump up to see if I can do it, but I might stay at 130 to try and get all the belts. You got Roger Gutierrez and the Japanese fighter [Kenichi Ogawa] that fought Tevin Farmer.
“I could go and get all the belts at 130 and become undisputed. I might end up doing that. I got to talk to my team and come up with a game plan. If I do it, I’ll want to do it in my next two fights.
“I would want to fight Valdez and then go to the Japanese guy or Gutierrez and whichever one that presents itself. I’d rather do it back to back and then move up. If I can’t do that, then we’ll see what’s the next biggest fight,” said Shakur.
Shakur doesn’t need advice
Stevenson says he doesn’t need advice from Terence Crawford on how to beat Valdez because he’s his own fighter. Of course, it wouldn’t hurt for Shakur to ask Crawford for some tips, given his knowledge base.
You’d have to have Stevenson kicking himself for not asking Terence for advice if he comes up empty against Valdez.
“No, we don’t really talk about this fight,” said Stevenson when asked if Terence Crawford has given him advice on how to fight Valdez. “He knows what I’m good with. I don’t need Bud to be right there on me. How Canelo is with him [Valdez]. ‘Do this and do that.’
“I don’t need that. I’m my own fighter and I have my own game plan in my brain, and I know how this is going to go. I’m going to go out and execute. It’s cool that he’s got Canelo there, but Canelo can’t get in there and fight for him.
“Even if he could, if me and Canelo were at the same weight, I feel like I would beat him,” said Shakur. “Because I’m a great boxer. I saw what Floyd did to him [Canelo]. I feel like Floyd picked him apart, and me personally, I feel like I would do the same.
“People are going to hate me for saying that, but I don’t really care. I just got to be honest. I’m that confident in myself.
“It’s going to be a good fight, but I don’t think it’s going to be a back and forth. He hit me, I hit him. I think it’s going to be me mentally draining him and picking him apart.
“Maybe, I wouldn’t count it out. That’s all I’m going to say,” said Stevenson when asked if he’s going to KO Valdez. “A lot of people are probably, ‘Shakur is going to win by decision.’ It’s the same thing they were saying with Jamel, but I wouldn’t count that out,” said Stevenson.
Shakur says he’d have beaten Mayweather
“That’s BS because how do you criticize somebody off of one fight?” said Shakur in reacting to being asked if he quieted the critics about his fighting style after his recent impressive performance against Jamel Herring.
“I feel like if you watch my fights previous to that fight, I fought Toka Kahn [Clary] and came forward the whole fight and beat him up. Before that, I brought boxing back with an action-packed fight with [Felix] Caraballo, a pressure fighter, but I stopped him with a body shot.
“I disagree with that. You can’t say that off of one fight [Jeremiah Nakathila]. That Nakathila fight, I didn’t feel my best but I still dominated. I think you cannot judge somebody off of one fight,” Shakur said.
Unfortunately for Stevenson, it wasn’t just the fight against Jeremiah Nakathilia that he failed to perform in a crowd-pleasing manner.
Most of Stevenson’s fights as a professional have been less than exciting to watch. The only real exceptions were his performances against Felix Caraballo and Jamel Herring.
It remains to be seen if Stevenson can duplicate his performance against Herring on April 30th when he gets in with Oscar Valdez. My guess is Stevenson will return to the fighting style we saw against Nakathila once he tastes Valdez’s power early on.
“I’ve definitely grown mentally and physically in every way,” said Stevenson. “I feel like now, I just need to keep showing who I am. My last fight, I showed how strong I am on the inside. I put combinations together. In this fight, you might see the same thing.
“I feel like he’s very skillful, and has got timing and reflexes. He’s fast. I feel like I’m so confident in myself. I don’t care who it is. I feel like me right now, if they asked me if I beat Floyd Mayweather back in the day, I’m going to say, ‘Yes,’ and truthfully really believe that.
“That’s how I feel about myself. Like I say, a fight will play out, I can’t tell you right now. We’re not fighting each other,” said Shakur about him and Tank Davis.
“Right now, we’re in a different weight class, but later on down the line, whatever it takes, I’m going to get the victory. I watch boxing, I’m a boxing fan. So, I sit there and watch fighters. I watch all the fighters around my weight. You name them, I watch them and I’ve been in the ring with them.
“I’m a boxing fans, so that comes from me sitting there like, ‘I like this’ or ‘This dude ain’t on my level.’ I sit there and watch myself and see certain things.
“Me personally, I feel like I’m one of the best fighters in boxing. Be locked in on April 30th, I’m going to put on a show. The same Shakur and same everything, let’s do it,” said Stevenson.
This writer doesn’t think Stevenson would have beaten Mayweather when he was fighting at super featherweight earlier in his career. That version of Mayweather was a stone cold killer inside the ring, and he would have figured out Stevenson’s one-dimensional pull-back style of fighting immediately.
Mayweather would have battered Stevenson due to his lack of power and marginal offensive capabilities. You can argue that Stevenson is a poor man’s version of Mayweather.
There have been better copycat Mayweather clones than Stevenson that have come along. Canelo is probably the best of the bunch, and Adrien Broner the worst.