Shakur Stevenson and Edwin De Los Santos made some history on Thursday night, but not the kind anyone wants to make, and certainly not the kind anyone wants to watch.
Specifically, De Los Santos made some history, landing a total of 40 punches. By CompuBox count, that is the fewest landed punches in a 12-round fight in the company’s 38-year fight tracking history.
To give some further context to just how bad this fight truly was, look even slightly more into the numbers.
- Neither fighter landed double digit punches in any round. In the ninth round, fittingly, Stevenson did land nine punches. No other round saw either man land over six.
- For the entire fight, Stevenson landed 19 power punches, and De Los Santos landed 14.
The positive spin to go with here is boasting again of the defensive prowess of Stevenson (21-0, 10 KO), though this clashes pretty badly with the ESPN/Top Rank team’s hyping of Stevenson’s alleged newfound power, based on him [checks notes] having two stoppages in his last four fights, so a 50 percent stoppage rate, the exact same as he had over the entirety of his career coming into last night’s “fight.”
That’s not the performance that matches reality, though. This was a two-way street of boxing ennui.
So to not put this all on Stevenson, let’s admit that De Los Santos’ approach was awful. For a few rounds, maybe even half the fight, you might have thought it clever of De Los Santos (16-2, 14 KO) to basically stand his ground, not go reckless, and not play into Stevenson’s game.
But if the Dominican southpaw was daring Stevenson to make a move, Shakur never took the bait. And at some point, as the significant underdog and B-side, the guy who is not the “money” fighter of a matchup, who cannot win a “skill” contest — and this is boxing, so “cannot” means a lot of things — you have to take a risk.
De Los Santos never really did. His corner tried to hype him up at points. He yelled and made faces in the corner between rounds. And then nothing much happened.
De Los Santos was always over-matched on paper here. He probably should not have been as highly ranked as he was by the WBC, but that is how sanctioning bodies operate. He was not really ready for this level, and truthfully may never be someone who can operate effectively at the very top.
The greater problem — and the reason it’s easy, in a way, to be more disappointed by De Los Santos than Stevenson — is that De Los Santos never even tried to put himself in a real position to win. Sure, the scorecards came back pretty close (115-113, 116-112, 116-112), but De Los Santos was just never going to win a fight that went the way this one did. His only sincere chance was big offense, and more than Shakur’s great defensive boxing making that hard, De Los Santos made it tough by simply not doing much at all.
Shakur Stevenson was just doing something he’ll do if you let him, albeit to a pretty extreme degree. He said he “wasn’t feeling too good” going into the fight while admitting it was a “bad performance,” while declining to say he had an injured left hand entering the bout, something the ESPN team floated as a possible reason for the lackluster showing.
Overall, it was a bit of a rough night for the ESPN-featured stars, but there is a key difference between the two big names and how things turned out.
Emanuel Navarrete had a tougher-than-anticipated fight with Robson Conceicao on the card, too, retaining his WBO 130 lb belt via majority draw. But Navarrete’s fight is one that made you want to see Navarrete again, maybe even see Navarrete vs Conceicao again, and this was not a world exactly clamoring for more Conceicao world title fights coming in.
Did Shakur make anyone who stayed up late on a Thursday want to see him again? He’s absolutely better than he looked in this fight, but this was so truly dreadful to watch, how could you blame anyone who writes off watching him again, especially as a headliner fighting until 1 am on the east coast?
Top Rank sent this Tweet out just as the fight was beginning:
Then, for the entirety of the fight, they found zero chances to post a video clip highlight, and with good reason: There were none.
Stevenson doesn’t have to abandon his strengths and try to be a new Arturo Gatti or Diego Corrales. He’s a three-division world champion fighting his way, however paper-y any of the belts may be.
But he can’t be this bad again. He has neither the elite-level credibility nor the charisma to pull that off and sell a fight.