Tim Bradley says De Los Santos being used to test Shakur Stevenson for Tank

Tim Bradley says he believes Top Rank is using Edwin De Los Santos as a test next Thursday to see if Shakur Stevenson can hang with Gervonta Davis.

The southpaw De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) has the two-fisted power to show whether Shakur (20-0, 10 KOs) can handle that type of fighter.

If not, there would be no point in Top Rank letting the Newark, New Jersey native Stevenson tangle with Tank Davis because it would end badly for him.

The recent sparring video leaked this week of Shakur getting handled by 140-pounder Kevin Johnson (12-3, 8 KOs) is troubling, as he was getting touched up by the 5’10” fighter. You could see the worry in the face of Shakur, as he was getting battered by Kevin.

It was like Shakur on the battlefield and having a moment of Epiphany where he realized he was outgunned by the enemy and in a hopeless situation. By the end of the sparring, Shakur looked like he was ready to throw down his rifle and make a hasty retreat from the frontlines.

Shakur looked like a fish out of water, trying to fight in the trenches, and it didn’t matter that his opponent, Johnson, wasn’t one of the major players at 140. He just can’t stand in front of anyone with power or size to them or he’s going to get blasted out.

You could see in the video that the 26-year-old Stevenson was holding his ground, being stationary, and not using his normal pull-back style.

That video showed that Shakur is just as vulnerable as anyone when standing still and not moving out of range after each punch. Ultimately. Stevenson might not be capable of fighting in the trenches against a killer like De Los Santos, and certainly not Tank Davis.

Granted, this was just sparring, and Johnson is considerably taller than the 5’5″ Tank and 5’8″ De Los Santos, but still, Shakur looked overwhelmed.

Shakur to be tested by De Los Santos

“De Los Santos is a southpaw, and he can punch. They’re [Top Rank] testing the waters with De Los Santos,” said Tim Bradley to Top Rank Boxing about Edwin De Los Santos being used to test Shakur Stevenson to see if he can hold his own against Gervonta Davis.

“They’re going to know if Tank can handle him if they’re going to move in that direction. If you can make a De Los Santos fight, why can’t you make a Tank fight? That’s the fight that we want to see. We want to see him with the same talent the same skills in his nature. A killer. We haven’t seen Tank in the ring with any killers in recent times,” said Bradley.

It’s good for Shakur to find out before next Thursday’s fight with De Los Santos to see if he can handle a big puncher because if his chin can’t hold up, he’s going to get totally obliterated on ESPN, and there will be replays galore shown of his agony of defeat.

Ideally, Shakur would like to make it entertaining for the boxing fans by running from De Los Santos as he did against Jeremiah Nakathilia and Robeisy Ramirez, but if he’s not built to stand his ground, what can you do?

Shakur has been a safety-first type of fighter his entire amateur & professional career, so it would take a lot of work to change his DNA to try and entertain the fans.

“It’s a good fight. I like the fight better than the Isaac Cruz fight. He turned down the fight, but I think Isaac Cruz’s feet are a little too slow. I don’t think he’d ever get traction against Shakur Stevenson,” said Paulie Malignaggi to Probox TV.

De Los Santos fun to watch

“Shakur kind of has that length to him, reach, and he knows how to use it really well to control the distance. If you’re slow-footed, I don’t know if you’d be able to get in there. I didn’t know if that fight would have made sense in terms of an entertainment point of view.

“De Los Santos has some qualities to him that do make him fun to watch¬†and make him a little dangerous. First of all, he comes to win. He’s got that youth excitement. He’s 24 years old, and he has that explosiveness in closing the gap.”

The way that De Los Santos dispatched Jose ‘Rayo’ Valenzuela was scary, as he destroyed this guy and was hurting him with every punch. De Los Santos’ power is unreal, and Shakur won’t last long if he can check his chin.

“He’s a little bit of an in & out fighter, so he does have the quick feet. I wouldn’t call Stevenson an ‘in & out fighter.’ He judges distance just perfectly,” said Malignaggi.

“You come in six inches, and he goes out eight inches. So, he’s always kind of range in front of you, but he just frustrates you and makes you put your hands in your pocket. Will he be able to do that against a guy with the excitement of De Los Santos, the punching, and also the awkwardness of De Los Santos?”

It’s difficult to picture Shakur being able to avoid getting hit by De Los Santos in this fight because he closes the distance quickly with fast feet, and he’ll chase him around the ring like Robeisy Ramirez did in the 2016 Olympics.

Shakur was running from the two-time Olympic gold medalist Robeisy their entire fight but did an excellent job of pursuing and nailing him with shots. It was odd watching the bigger Shakur run from, the smaller Robeisy, like a cat fleeing from a mouse.

Shakur looked enormous in size compared to Robeisy, yet had no confidence in standing his ground to fight the Cuban. De Los Santos is equally adept at persuing Shakur if he chooses the escape route rather than fighting.

“Again, staying right at the edge of that range. It means you’re committed to having that timing of your opponent, and De Los Santos has a weird speed to him. He throws a lot of awkward punches with that explosiveness,” said Malignaggi.

“He’ll fly in and shoot to the body with a combination, or he’ll stay in there and throw a good combination or come up with a right hook from the southpaw stance before he gets out.”

Kevin Johnson was flying in and nailing Shakur with combinations to the body in their leaked sparring video, and he had a lot of success. Like usual, Shakur was pulling back, but Johnson closed the distance well, perhaps due to his 5’10” height and long legs. He was lightning quick with the speed that he got to Stevenson.

“When he’s out, he’s kind of all the way out, moving around, and you’re trying to figure out how to get to him yourself,” said Malignaggi. “I felt like Joseph Adorno had a lot of problems with this because Adorno’s feet couldn’t match the foot speed of De Los Santos.

“So, I feel like there will be moments where Shakur will need to be on the front foot and come to De Los Santos because De Los Santos could be using that in & style pretty well and in spots. But I also expect Shakur to start to get the timing, and punch in between him.

“It could get tricky in spots. Remember, De Los Santos could punch, and De Los Santos is not easy to time because he’s got that weird, awkward explosiveness to him. The kid can fight, and I’m looking forward to this one,” said Malignaggi.

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