In terms of the entertainment portion of the main event…this one wasn’t it, if you were looking for some fireworks to cap the week off. It was however a very good technical performance from🇺🇸Shakur “Fearless” Stevenson (16-0-0, 8KO), who thoroughly outpointed opponent 🇳🇦Jeremiah Nakathila (21-2-0, 17KO), to a 12 round Unanimous Decision shutout…though the impression left was that there was more that could’ve been done by the supremely gifted American that could’ve gotten his overmatched opponent out of there much, much sooner.
Early observation – You could see a physique change for the young 23 year old Stevenson, who…A) put in extra work for this fight, and…B) you could see the body maturation coming into existence, as a young man going through his second growth spurt. The first round, Stevenson was very careful with superb defensive positioning, giving Nakathila nothing to effectively target, and freezing the Namibian fighter in place often throughout the first couple of minutes.
The first round was quiet in terms of the offensive side of the equation for Stevenson, but he did make Nakathila pay with a crisp left cross over Nakathila’s low lead right hand. By round 2, Shakur laid the ground work with his up-jab, dictating the distance in which he wanted to operate at. Nakathila whenever he did open up, swung wildly, even flailing to the point where he knocked himself on the canvas for what was ruled a slip…though with interpretation, one could argue that it should’ve been called a knockdown.
Round three, it was abundantly clear that Nakathila, though determined, had nothing for Stevenson to worry about, which was expected, given Stevenson’s pedigree, and rapidly improving fundamentals. Shakur began to catch-and-shoot in the 4th round, picking off the jab and firing the missile left hand down the pike. Nakathila was too gangly in his leg coordination, and he often threw haymakers with a prayer attached to him. Seconds before the round ended, Shakur countered Jeremiah with a counter-right hook that put Nakathila to a knee for the knockdown – the first of his career.
Nakathila got up, and got to his corner, but by this point, he needed to do something drastic to change the overall tune of the fight, however he couldn’t find the answers to the questions he was seeking, and often stood right in front of Shakur. Stevenson, seeing the gap between abilities, began to get a little more brave in the pocket, dropping his lead hand and daring Jeremiah to throw, having a response for him every time Nakathila thought about opening up.
Nakathila for the next couple of rounds looked like a sitting duck waiting to be had, but Stevenson continued to stay reserved. As brilliant a young fighter as Shakur Stevenson is, recognition of the moment is something he is still learning, and adding to the repertoire. Round 9 though, Shakur began to plant his feet more, looking to find openings to inflict damage.
I must make a note of Referee Celestino Ruiz and his annoying, off-kilter warnings administered to both fighters, as all night, he repeated nonstop “get off the feet!” to the point where he began to sound like a Metronome, annoying us, the broadcast crew at ESPN, fans in the crowd, and the people at home, especially when he warned to take a point away (from who? he didn’t exactly specify that either…).
The fight honestly stalled out for the next couple of rounds, much of it being Stevenson not consistently stepping up the action. This I will say about knockouts…..they are far overblown in terms of its magnitude in a raw boxing sense…BUT, it does mean a lot when you’re looking to make a statement to broaden your revenue and star power….Nakathila looked ripe for the picking the last 4 rounds, and Shakur ultimately let him off the hook.
The fight got to the 12th and final bell, and it was a complete shutout, with all judges scoring it 📝120-107 (X3). Shakur Stevenson won the WBO “Interim” Super-Featherweight strap. It wasn’t an entertaining performance at all from Stevenson…but he did wipe out his opponent with no problem.
In the next level of critique, when he gets to fighting elite opponents, he will need to learn to recognize the moment better, how to sniff out when his prey is wounded, and read his opponents posture, and their reaction to each movement he makes, that way he capitalizes whenever opportunity presents itself. Granted he is only 23, so he has time to learn.
Perhaps talks with his mentor 🇺🇸Terence “Bud” Crawford will rub off on the young fighter, as Crawford possesses what you would call a predatorial instinct, one who quintessentially rises to meet, or exceed the moment, and punish his opponents every time an opening is presented to him. With that being said, all in all, it was a good performance, just minus the other factor that we’ve discussed here.
Well done for Stevenson obtaining the Interim title – now he can shift his attentions towards a potential major bout with full WBO Super-Featherweight Titlist 🇺🇸Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring that most likely could take place in late 2021. We’re all on board for that, as one of the best fights to be made.