Looking to prove he’s one of boxing’s pound-for-pound best, Shakur Stevenson put his WBO junior lightweight championship up against WBC champion Oscar Valdez in a big unification bout on Saturday night in Las Vegas. Despite the fight being the most dangerous of Stevenson’s career, he made very easy work of Valdez, cruising to a wide unanimous decision win.
Valdez, a fighter known for a rugged and aggressive approach to his bouts, spent much of the fight stuck in neutral, standing in front of Stevenson without letting his hands go. This approach allowed Stevenson to employ a simple strategy of jabs to set up straight lefts from his southpaw stance.
Valdez had brief moments of success, occasionally being able to bully his way forward and throw body shots at the slicker, more skilled Stevenson. Those moments were few and far between, however, and it was often Stevenson whose body shots provided the more meaningful work.
The biggest moment of the fight came in Round 8, when Stevenson hit a right hook that stumbled Valdez. Another right hook seconds later sent Valdez shooting into the ropes. With the ropes holding him up, it was ruled a knockdown, giving Stevenson a 10-8 round and some extra padding in a fight where he truly never needed it.
Valdez simply did not present any true danger for Stevenson for the full 12 rounds, leaving the ring with a swollen, reddened face after absorbing round after round of crisp, clean shots.
In fact, the riskiest moment of the night for Stevenson may have come when he interrupted his post-fight interview to propose to the mother of his young daughter in the middle of the ring. She said yes, giving Stevenson his second win in one evening.
The final scorecards read 117-110, 118-109 and 118-109, all, unsurprisingly, for Stevenson.
Asked what’s next in the ring, Stevenson acknowledged his future may be at lightweight before saying the immediate concern is collecting two more belts at junior lightweight.
“I’m a superstar in this sport,” Stevenson said. “Line ’em up, name ’em. I’m ready for whoever. … Anybody. Any of the champions. I’m going to go collect all the belts at 130 and become undisputed. I deserve to be a superstar.”