In a weekend with no significant UK action a shining star continued to emerge in the USA.
Newark, New Jersey junior-lightweight Shakur Stevenson dethroned compatriot Jamel Herring to gain the WBO 9st,4lb (130lbs) title by 10th round TKO. The challenger won his second ‘world’ title having gained the WBO 9st (126lbs) crown and immediately moving up to compete in the heavier division.
The manner of the 24 year old Stevenson’s victory was emphatic, dominating the fight with a stinging southpaw jab and fast hands. Herring was making his fourth defence after stopping Carl Frampton earlier in the year, but the 35 year old champion was second best throughout. Apart from coming on ironically just before the stoppage, he was picked apart at range for the duration of the fight.
Stevenson (17-0, 9 KO’s), a Rio Olympic silver medalist and elite amateur, was cautious but much more aggressive in this fight than previous contests.
Ex-US Marine Herring (23-0-3) showing his exceptional grit and heart yet again just couldn’t get in the fight. He was continually stung with southpaw jabs and heavy left hands but couldn’t get his own southpaw lead off, continually moving into Stevenson’s right hand as he tried to advance forward.
The fight was ended by referee Mark Nelson after 1:30 of the 10th when Herring sustained a perennial cut over his right eye in the previous round, and was caught on the ropes shipping unnecessary punishment. There was no protest and both fighters embraced on termination of the bout. Herring was accepting of defeat afterfight and left the ring with his head held high following an excellent series of defences of his former title.
Stevenson in the post fight interview said he “smelled blood” when Herring got cut and called out Oscar Valdez (29-0, 23 KO’s) who sensationally beat Miguel Berchelt to win the WBC title earlier in the year. This a natural fight between two undefeated champions and Stevenson will fancy his chances with his superior technical skills.
The weekend in Montreal, Canada also saw the first contesting of the new WBC world bridgerweight title – a new initiative to ‘bridge’ the gap between heavyweight and cruiserweight. With the heavy’s getting bigger the smaller contenders (16.5st/232lbs) are being left behind, too big to make cruiser and too small to compete effectively at heavy. Although boxing could least do with another weight class it does seem one borne with the safety of the fighter in mind. The inaugural champion is Colombia’s Oscar Rivas (28-1, 19 KO’s) who unanimously outpointed Ryan Rozicki (13-0, 13 KO’s) in a highly competitive slugfest. Scores were 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.
Rivas lost a similar competitive fight to Britain’s Dillian Whyte in 2019 and will be more comfortable in the new lighter weight division. It is the first new division to be introduced for 34 years but will need elite fighters and contests to be fully accepted.