ESPN commentator Tim Bradley claims Shakur Stevenson’s poor performance against Edwin De Los Santos (16-2, 14 KOs) on Thursday night was due to him having an injury, and that’s why he struggled so badly in winning a dull twelve round unanimous decision to capture the vacant WBC lightweight title at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Despite throwing very few punches, Shakur got the win by the scores 116-112, 116-112, and 115-113.
Besides coming up with an injury excuse on Shakur’s behalf, Bradley praised him, describing his running as sound defense, made him sound like he was carrying water for Top Rank-promoted fighter.
It would have been better for Bradley to just call it like he sees it because Shakur is likely to be leaving Top Rank soon, anyway once his contract with them expires after one more fight.
Bradley doesn’t say whether it’s a fact that Shakur was injured, but either way, it doesn’t matter. The boxing public won’t buy any injury or illness excuse for Shakur, as he’s fought like this before using his boring pull-back style.
If you look at Shakur’s fights against these three fighters, you’ll see the same lackluster performance:
Bradley wants Shakur to fight Tank
“Shakur? Tank,” said Tim Bradley to the media tonight when asked who he wants Shakur Stevenson to fight next following his win over Edwin De Los Santos to capture the vacant WBC lightweight title.
“I believe Tank Davis because Haney’s not a big puncher, and Haney is going up to 140 lbs. I don’t think he’s coming back down,” Bradley continued. “I see all the weight he’s putting on. Tank is the guy I want to see Shakur fight next.”
There’s very little chance that Gervonta Davis or his management at PBC & Mayweather Promotions are going to want anything to do with Shakur after watching him run from De Los Santos all night. They’re not going to want to risk putting Tank in with a runner like Shakur.
“However, I already know what it’s going to be. Shakur is going to have to take short money if it’s going to happen,” said Bradley. “They’re going to use that against him. They’re going to say, ‘You don’t sell out no arenas. You don’t bring anything to the table, so why?’ They’re going to say, ‘You’re going to run all night.’
“They’re going to say everything they possibly can for the fight not to happen, but I think it should happen. I still want to see who’s going to win that battle. Again, my money is on Shakur. I think defense wins championships. I could be wrong.
“Tank is an animal; he can fight, but he’s never been in the ring with a guy as smart as Shakur and a guy at his IQ level. This is like a repeated thing. Every time Shakur gets in the ring with someone that can punch, this is what he does: fight off the back foot.
After this performance, likely, Top Rank won’t attempt to re-sign Shakur because he’s going to want more money than he’s worth.
It wouldn’t be a total loss for Bob Arum to keep Shakur, but only if he can get him cheap because he’s never going to be a huge star and definitely not the face of boxing. Shakur lacks the warrior’s heart to become a star, given that he would have to fight bravely, and he can’t do that.
Was Shakur injured?
“I can tell you this. This guy [De Los Santos] had punching power all the way through the fight, and I’ve fought guys that had that thud all the way through the fight, and you’re cautious,” said Bradley. “You don’t want to throw power punches because when you throw power punches, you leave yourself exposed most of the time.”
It’s difficult for boxing fans to buy into an injury excuse to try and explain away the effort from Shakur because we’d seen him fight this way in the past several times.
“You throw a power punch, and you miss, and now you’re exposed for a big shot or a big counter,” said Bradley. “Shakur knew that. This guy [De Los Santos] had quick reactions, and he could punch with either hand. He felt that.
“So, he [Shakur] was extremely cautious throughout the fight. Plus, he said he didn’t feel well. I don’t know what was going on with him emotionally. I don’t know what was going on with how he was feeling.
Considering that Shakur (21-0, 10 KOs) is one of ESPN’s house fighters, some fans question whether Bradley and the other commentators, like Mark Kriegel, Joe Tessitore, and Bernardo Osuna, were holding back from criticizing him for fear of upsetting their bosses.
“Another thing was he only threw 27 left hands,” said Bradley. “What I heard from Mark Kriegel was his hand was hurt. So, he had gone to one of his sparring sessions. His hand was hurt.
“Shakur Stevenson has blessed us with three or four great performances where he stood and exchanged with guys, and he was confident, and he was there, and he put on some great performances.
“I’m not holding him to this performance. Say what you’re going to say. I know everybody was looking for me to bash him. I’ve already done that. Shakur is not happy with his performance. So understand that. He’s been there before.
“Trust me, this young man will bounce back. Of course, that’s what true champions do. Everybody has off nights. Tonight was his night. Again, I look at his performances before that he did in the past. Bro, I’m still a fan. I still believe in you.
“A lot of people may jump ship and jump on somebody else, but not this guy. I’m a Shakur Stevenson fan. I think he has the goods, and he’s going to be pound-for-pound #1.
“I still have Shakur. Defense. You can’t hit him, bro. Tank has the bomb, but if he can’t land that bomb or figure out how to land that bomb, then how is he going to beat him?” said Bradley.