The lightweight division has been a focal point of boxing over the last month, with Gervonta Davis beating Ryan Garcia (albeit at a 136 lb catchweight) in late April, and Devin Haney winning a narrow and debated decision over Vasiliy Lomachenko this past Saturday.
While that may lead to discussion of a Haney vs Davis fight, and with good reason, there’s another challenger out there loudly announcing his intentions to clean out the division: Shakur Stevenson, who just moved up to 135 in early April himself, but has already won titles at 126 and 130. And if Haney moves up in weight, which is very possible, THE fight at 135 for many people would become Davis vs Stevenson.
Matthew Legros takes a look at the potentially fascinating style matchup between Tank and Shakur.
What would Gervonta Davis vs Shakur Stevenson look like?
The starkest contrast between the two fighters is their punch counts. While neither have a zealous output the likes of an Oscar De La Hoya, it’ll be a battle of styles.
Stevenson has only won 10 of his 20 professional fights by way of stoppage. He clearly has power, but his adversary Davis is a knockout maven with an astounding 93 percent KO rate.
Recently, we’ve seen Davis (29-0, 27 KO) pull back from letting his hands go even more than usual. Against Rolando Romero, Davis threw 40 punches throughout the first three-and-a-half rounds. Further, he threw only 26 jabs in the entire six-round showdown and landed a mere 12 body shots.
Against Hector Luis Garcia, Davis was tactical and showed why he is one of the best counter punchers in all of boxing. And Ryan Garcia learned the hard way that size and reach advantages do little to deter the showstopper out of Baltimore.
Contrastingly, Stevenson (20-0, 10 KO) picks his spots and is a masterful combination artist. His onslaughts usually come in four-punch sequences, rarely ever exceeding that amount.
Stevenson scores points. While Davis fights almost never go the distance, if Stevenson’s elusiveness and chin carry him through, the scorecards would likely favor him off of sheer volume and precision.
Strengths vs Weaknesses
Stevenson’s defense is impeccable. He doesn’t even need to jump back to dodge a punch. Simply leaning on his back foot and escaping barrages does the trick.
Stevenson also uses ring space well. When pinned against the ropes in the Yoshino fight, Stevenson was able to let off counters and frustrate him. Against Jamel Herring, Stevenson rendered his opponent’s reach advantage obsolete.
To the contrary, Davis is a stalker. He is great at closing distances without needing to do so in haste. But he does not throw his jab frequently.
The question is: Will Stevenson be able to utilize his footwork and elusiveness to dodge a knockout punch from Davis?
Likely, Davis will invite Stevenson to pour on his offense, while carefully seeking that money counter shot.
If it never comes, though, the question on the other side of the table is: Will Davis do enough with his jab and combinations to score points?
Shakur has a tendency to probe with his jab hand. Typically seen from fighters looking to establish distance, he follows it up with a busy jab that keeps opposing fighters at bay. This was seen most in his fight against Oscar Valdez.
In fact, Valdez fought that fight in close approximation to how Tank would. He kept his gloves up, forming a guard with his forearms. Davis has done so in each of his last four fights, absorbing contact.
While Stevenson dominated the Valdez fight, the latter was able to connect frequently to the Newark native’s body, utilizing a bevy of tactics to confound Stevenson including getting low and cutting off angles.
How does the fight shake out?
Stevenson may need to prove himself in the division before getting his shot at Davis or the other top dogs, like Haney or Lomachenko. However, neither Stevenson and Davis have backed down from throwing verbal shots at one another and all signs point to the fight taking place, even if it takes a while to materialize.
As presently constructed, Davis has been so sharp in all of his fights that it seems hard to envision him losing. He has a durable chin that enables him to let his hands off without fearing opponents.
If Stevenson can somehow endure 12 rounds of punishing shots from Davis and it comes down to the cards, he would have a great, and dare I say favorable shot at taking down Tank. But to do so would likely require him hurting Davis at some point in the fight and making him respect his power. Otherwise, all signs point to Davis securing the victory, no matter how exceptional of a pugilist Stevenson may be.