American boxer Shakur Stevenson kept up his unbeaten record as a professional boxer when he defeated the talented Oscar Valdez. Not only did he retain his WBO super featherweight title, but he also claimed the WBC belt in the division.
Stevenson was handed a unanimous decision by the judges who scored it in his favor 118-109, 118-109, 117-110. He dominated the 12 rounds at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, knocking his opponent down in the sixth round.
The defeat was the first of Valdez’s professional career. He was totally outclassed by the WBO champion and was hardly able to land a shot on his opponent. As the fight progressed, Stevenson showcased his combinations, frequently putting together three-punch sequences.
This victory reinforces what many boxing pundits have been saying about Stevenson since he turned pro. He is regarded as one of the most talented boxers in the sport today. His record now reads 18-0, with nine of those victories coming by stoppage.
His latest win also opens up lots of options moving forward for the American. One of them could be to face Gervonta Davis at lightweight over the next few years. Davis is 1/16 on the boxing betting site for his next assignment against Rolando Romero. Stevenson has described a possible showdown with the WBA lightweight champion as a “dream fight”.
Amateur Success Led to High Hopes for New Jersey Boxer
Prior to turning professional, Stevenson had a lot of success as an amateur. He qualified for the Olympics in Rio in 2016, a great achievement alone, as the amount of competition for places in the USA team is always high.
Stevenson made it through to the gold medal match in Rio but lost to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez. That fight came at Bantamweight, and although he didn’t get the result, the American received a lot of credit for his performance. He was the only male boxer from the USA to reach as far as he did at the Games.
In 2016, Stevenson also won both of his two appearances at the World Series of Boxing. He defeated Britain’s Peter McGrail 3-0, while in his bout with Morocco’s Mohamed Hamout, he also came out on top at 3-0.
Stevenson signed his first professional contract in 2017 with Top Rank Boxing. His manager Andre Ward was a world champion at two weight divisions and retired in 2017 with an undefeated record, so he has been in good hands.
Ward eased his exciting recruit into his professional career, and the experience he has gained in the early stages in the pro ranks is now starting to pay dividends.
WBC and WBO Champion Will Be Targeting Pound-For-Pound Top 10
The victory over Valdez in his last fight will have done Stevenson’s reputation no harm at all. He will be hoping to break into The Ring’s top 10 pound-for-pound list in the near future. He is ranked number one by the organization in his division.
Stevenson first became a world champion in October 2019. He got the better of Joet Gonzalez for the vacant featherweight title. Less than two years later, he became a two-weight champion, as he won the WBO interim super featherweight crown against Jeremia Nakathila.
The 24-year-old won the full WBO super featherweight title when he stopped Jamel Herring in the 10th round of their championship contest. At that point, it was the toughest test of his career and he passed it with flying colors.
Stevenson’s last three victories have all been at the highest level which has helped the two-weight world champion establish himself as one of the elite boxers across all weight divisions.
Who Could Be Next for Stevenson?
The WBC and WBO champion has said he wants his next fight to come against either Roger Gutierrez or Kenichi Ogawa. They hold the WBA and IBF belts in the super featherweight division. Victory over either of those two men would allow the American to unify more belts.
Gutierrez has been the WBA champion ever since he beat Rene Alvarado in January 2021. Ogawa, on the other hand, won the vacant crown last November, defeating Azinga Fuzile by decision in New York.
Before considering moving up in weight, the WBC and WBO champion will have aspirations of becoming the first undisputed super featherweight champion in the current era of four belts.
There are two undisputed champions in boxing at the moment. Canelo Alvarez holds the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO titles in the super middleweight division, while Josh Taylor has the four major belts in the super lightweight division. Joining those two men would be a huge achievement for Stevenson so early into his professional career.
Stevenson also addressed the prospect of facing fellow WBC champion Devin Haney at lightweight. He said he was excited about a potential showdown with the unbeaten American, but it was Gutierrez and Ogawa he will be going after next.
The future is very bright for Stevenson. He has shown enough already to indicate he could be one of the best of his generation in the sport.