Oscar De La Hoya is once again banging the drum for a fight between his Golden Boy fighter lightweight contender William Zepeda and Shakur Stevenson, making it known that he’s interested in making that match-up happen.
Zepeda (29-0, 25 KOs), a pressure fighter with excellent power and a high punch output, would be a risky one for Shakur to take because he’s a finesse-level guy who uses a hit & run style that was made famous by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
While that style is effective, it has limitations against pressure fighters adept at cutting off the ring and throwing a lot of shots.
Stevenson might end up in the same boat as Mercito Gesta, who tried to use movement against Zepeda, but he couldn’t keep him off and was forced to stand and fight in their clash last September. Zepeda eventually wore down and stopped Gesta in the sixth round.
We saw Floyd struggle and controversial wins in fights that he probably should have lost against Jose Luis Castillo and Marcos Maidana. If not for Mayweather’s popularity, both guys would likely have beaten him in their first fights.
Zepeda’s pressure = nightmare for Shakur
Stevenson would be in the same situation fighting Zepeda, an even better pressure fighter than Castillo & Maidana. You can’t escape Zepeda because he’s excellent at cutting off the ring and chopping to the body to force runners to stand still.
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) November 10, 2023
Shakur (20-0, 10 KOs) is fighting for the vacant WBC 135-lb title next week against Edwin De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) on Thursday, November 16th, on ESPN at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Stevenson’s promoters at Top Rank could be setting the table for a fight between him and Emanuel Navarrete, who will be defending his WBO super featherweight title against Robson Conceicao in the co-feature spot on the card.
It’s believed that if Shakur and Navarrete win their fights next Thursday, Top Rank boss Bob Arum will set up a match for early 2024 on ESPN+ PPV. It would be an in-house Top Rank-promoted fight, so it would be an easy one to make.
We don’t know yet if Shakur will win his fight against De Los Santos because that’s a tough match-up for him, and he could get taken out by the powerful southpaw.
Stevenson seems to have changed his fighting style recently, veering away from his sleep-inducing pull-back approach to fights and becoming more entertaining by staying in the pocket.
Shakur got away with his new aggressive style in his first fight at 135 against Shuichiro Yoshino last April, but that was a mediocre fighter who had no business being ranked in the top 15 at lightweight.
De Los Santos & Zepeda are a different story. Those guys have actual talent, and they can hit like no tomorrow. If Shakur tries to be brave against De Los Santos, he could live to regret it. Top Rank would then need to pick up the pieces of Shakur’s shattered career and try to figure out what to do with him.
Shakur is a good fighter but not the guy that he’s been made out to be, thanks to the careful match-making by Top Rank. When you match a guy with care, you can make them look like pure 24k gold and fool the public.
What we saw in the 2016 Olympics was Shakur getting easily handled by Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, who dominated him with nonstop pressure in their gold medal match.
Stevenson looked like a broken man afterward, with his tearless sobbing, trying to make sense of what happened to him against Robeisy. It’s pretty obvious what went wrong.
Shakur couldn’t handle the pressure, and his running didn’t work because a smiling, gleeful-looking Robeisy stayed on him, chasing him around the ring like a cat pursuing a mouse.
If Shakur defeats De Los Santos, he will have a lot of trouble with Navarrete, as that guy has the reach of a welterweight with his freakishly long arms, and his power and punch output is on another level.