Shakur Stevenson probably didn’t win any new fans tonight, but he got a clear decision win over Jeremiah Nakathila to claim the interim WBO junior lightweight title.
Stevenson (16-0, 8 KO) won on scores of 120-107 across the board, which is also what our unofficial score was, and really the only score you could have. Nakathila (21-2, 17 KO) proved miles out of his depth at this level, but the Namibian underdog did swing hard when he swung, and Stevenson respected the wind behind the missed punches enough to not take many chances.
In all seriousness, Stevenson, 23, is clearly a very talented fighter, and many in the media will probably wind up making a mountain out of a molehill with a boring fight like this. It’s not the fight Stevenson will be remembered for when all is said and done either way; it’s a blip on the road to bigger things, the things he will be remembered for — but yes, this fight was aggressively dull, with the crowd never waking up much, only a bit to boo some in the 11th round.
Stevenson did score a knockdown on a check hook in the fourth round, and may have deserved a couple similar knockdowns elsewhere in the fight, but those were ruled slips by foot-obsessed referee Celestino Ruiz.
Stevenson admitted to not being too happy with the performance, but gave Nakathila credit — if that’s the word — for being awkward.
“To be honest, I didn’t really like my performance. I feel like I could have performed a lot better, but he was an awkward, awkward fighter,” he said after the win.
With it noted that he’s the top-ranked contender with the WBC and WBO — and now the interim WBO titleholder at 130 — Stevenson said the same things he’s been saying: he wants the belts.
“If I had the choice, I’d take Oscar Valdez,” he said. “But if I’ve got to beat up Jamel (Herring) to get to it, I’ll do that, too. Jamel can’t beat me. Jamel knows what it is. I don’t care how I performed, Jamel knows what it is.”
“I’ll take whatever route they tell me to get a title and then another title and another title,” he added.
Blink and you'll miss it. @ShakurStevenson catches Nakathila with a lightning right hook & puts him on the canvas to close out Round 4.#StevensonNakathila | LIVE on ESPN & ESPN+ pic.twitter.com/372cuB0SQT— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) June 13, 2021