Shakur Stevenson (21-0) won his third world title on Thursday in Las Vegas, but in many ways it feels like he lost something.
Stevenson’s defensive ability proved king against Edwin De Los Santos (16-2) as the Newark native won by unanimous decision (116-112×2, 115-113) and won the WBC lightweight title – his third championship in as many divisions.
Stevenson was victorious, but frankly it was not an exciting fight.
According to Ben Chan of CompuBox:
“De los Santos made CompuBox history tonight. His 40 punches are the fewest punches landed in a 12-round fight in Compubox’s 38-year history. In the co-main event, Emmanuel Navarrete landed 23 power punches in the 11th round. Stevenson and De los Santos landed 19 and 14 power punches respectively in 12 rounds. Neither fighter reached double figures in punches in any round. Stevenson won the fight with 46 jabs.
De los Santos was successful only 13% of his attempts to kill Stevenson. This is undoubtedly a recipe for defeat.
I also scored the fight 116-112 for Stevenson, so there was no argument with the scorecard. Stevenson seemed to realize De los Santos’ power and speed early on, and thus, he chose a safe approach that consisted of reasonably consistent striking with the occasional right hand counter punch.
He used that formula and quickness to avoid De los Santos’s sometimes wild attacks to overcome his athletic but less-skilled opponent. De los Santos looked very frustrated during the fight as his attempts to connect were almost always unsuccessful.
He was not the only disappointed person in the field. The fans booed the fighters heavily in the final 8-9 rounds, as there was very little action and neither boxer seemed eager to take much of a chance.
Stevenson admitted that he did not perform well and said during the post-fight interview with Bernardo Osuna that he “didn’t feel good”.
De los Santos pulled no punches, delivering some harsh criticism of Stevenson during his post-fight interview.
Even despite Stevenson’s admission about his readiness and mention of a potential physical problem heading into the fight, his opponents, veterans like Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney, Oscar De La Hoya and others were not as kind in their evaluation of the fight.
If Stevenson was one of the most touted fighters in the sport going into this fight, it may be even more challenging for him to find an opponent now.
However, this may be due to a less influential reason. With such a weak performance, potential opponents may point to this performance and suggest that they do not want to fight a guy who will run all night.
It’s not an ideal look for a young, up-and-coming fighter like Stevenson, but he got the win – which is always better than a loss.