Nobody expected Shakur Stevenson to have any trouble in tonight’s ESPN main event against Felix Caraballo, and boy, did he not have any trouble at all.
The overmatched Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KO) realistically had no business in the ring with Stevenson (14-0, 8 KO), the 22-year-old WBO featherweight titlist who stepped up to 130 pounds for this get-busy comeback bout, and Stevenson didn’t even give the B-side a chance to look halfway decent.
Stevenson, 22, put the 33-year-old Caraballo down in the opening round, and just dominated the fight from there.
The stoppage finally came at 1:31 of the sixth round, when Stevenson smashed Caraballo with two wicked body shots. With no crowd noise, you could really hear the agony Caraballo was in as referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight.
“I came here to get him out of there,” Stevenson said post-fight. “My mind set was focused on getting him out of there. I hit him with everything I could early, I wobbled him a bunch of times, and I started realizing the head shots weren’t going to do it, so I went to the body.”
Stevenson, who suffered some level of left hand injury in the win, admitted that the entire experience was unusual both during fight week and the fight itself.
“It’s a different atmosphere. Losing the weight was different, training was different, I couldn’t be around nobody,” he said. “And the fighting with no crowd is different. I hit him with mean shots and there’s no oohs and aahs.”
ESPN and Top Rank personalities have gone on a crusade to compare Stevenson to Floyd Mayweather, and Stevenson says he appreciates that, but also doesn’t want to try and be “the next” anyone.
“We’re two different fighters, we’ve got different styles,” he said. “I’ve stolen stuff from his game, but I’ve also stolen stuff from Pernell Whitaker, Terence Crawford, Andre Ward. I’ve stolen stuff from a lot of guys! It’s not just Floyd that I try to put in my game. It’s a huge compliment, but I’m still my own fighter.”
Hopefully, Stevenson’s hand injury isn’t serious and we’ll be able to see him back before long. There are potentially good fights at 126 or 130 for him, certainly better than what we saw tonight.