LukieBoxing Column: Shakur Ascends, Joshua Wins, and Colbert Makes A Statement
Stevenson wins last Top Rank card of the year
Shakur Stevenson is in line for a world title fight next as his dominant and one-sided victory over former Top Rank signed fighter Toka Kahn Clary furthered the young fighters ascent in the sport.
The performance was a methodical and strategic beatdown, and not unlike what Errol Spence Jr did last week to Danny Garcia, it was a slow and deliberate beatdown. After two rounds, Kahn Clary looked as though he was trying to survive rather than exchange.
The fight might not have been sensational television, but for those who know the sport, it was a veteran performance from a young fighter, who is getting only better and better with each performance.
Next for Shakur will be more the winner of fledging and inactive 130 lbs WBO world champion Jamel Herring versus Carl Frampton, two have been scheduled to fight for roughly a year now, despite little fan interest, as the bout serves as an exciting older guy fight. The winner of this bout, will have to face Shakur which will be a tall-task.
The End of Verdejo, The A-Side
in 2015, you’d be hard-pressed to find a fighter with a higher ceiling than Felix Verdejo, from his Olympic pedigree to his promoter Top Rank Inc, Verdejo seemed destined for big things. That being said, Verdejo will be remembered more for what he wasn’t than what he was.
After a few times being on HBO, Verdejo was stopped in a close fight to Antonio Lozada Torres, a man who dropped the ball afterward and did nothing with this win as well. Verdejo in this loss outlined his major flaw, which is the inability to preserve himself late into a fight. The fight was ended in the tenth and final round with Verdejo up on the cards.
The loss triggered a move for Verdejo, who began working with Ismael Salas, a Cuban trainer known for his technical offensive style. In Verdejo’s first bubble fight, he stopped Will Madera in the first round, leading some to believe he was now what some had hoped he’d become
In this bout last night, Verdejo looked well on his way to beating Masayoshi Nakatani after dropping him in the first and fourth round with a right hand that seemingly couldn’t miss. The second half of the fight saw Verdejo, who largely only threw power shots, fatigue and the jab of Nakatani hurt Verdejo multiple times.
Verdejo was dropped by a jab in the ninth round, only for seconds later to be stopped by a jab-cross combination. The loss more than likely will be the end of Verdejo at Top Rank, as Verdejo will now be a measuring stick for a young fighter, and could be a good fight for Ryan Garcia or Devin Haney.
Nakatani, on the other hand, will now look to get a world title shot in the lightweight division, which is even more feasible if Teofimo Lopez moves up to 140 lbs.
Berlanga is a star
Though the ill-informed or naive will discount what Edgar Berlanga is doing, it is not to be discounted, his first-round knockout of Ulises Sierra, was a massive statement as Sierra, who is not a household name, is a quality fighter, who I met before in Andre Ward’s camp for Sergey Kovalev, the second time around.
Berlanga treated a world-level fighter, who might be on the back end of the top-15, but still there, and made him look like a fighter he’d fight in his pro debut. Berlanga is 16-0 and never had a fight leave the first round. This is a different type of power puncher.
Top Rank Undercard
Six fights in one year might have been one too many for Clay Collard, the MMA fighter turned endearing boxing story, as Quincy Lavallais’ right hand landed to Collard’s noggin all night and right uppercut couldn’t miss his torso.
Collard who is extremely unorthodox made the fight tough, but Lavallais just seemed a bit more polished and a bit more hungry on this given night. Collard was heading into this bout with a contract signed for the PFL in 2021 as an MMA fighter, and will more than likely not boxing in 2021.
Lavallais just picked up the first major win of his career as the New Orleans based fighter avenged his draw in the first encounter with Collard.
Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez the light flyweight sensation is seemingly one of those special fighters. It took him only two rounds to stop Saul “Baby” Juarez, and watching him do so, made you realize the only thing working against him might be you can actually see his fights, as the cult following of the lower weight classes seemingly adores the hard to find fighters.
Rodriguez, the brother of Joshua Franco, seems destined to be a world champion, but also special talent in the division.
2012 and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez stopped Brandon Valdes, but it sure wasn’t pretty. Ramirez is still trying to find his footing as a pro, and even though he stopped Valdes, it was more a flurry of punches at the right time, than utter domination.
Ramirez, who will need to act quickly to get the Shakur Stevenson bout, as Stevenson is now already a weight class above him, and more than likely still climbing, is still burdened by losing his pro debut in stunning fashion. Working with Ismael Salas seems to be helping, but Ramirez still needs a lot of work.
Haven Brady Jr stopped Michael Land in the second round of their scheduled four-round bout. Land started fast and only threw power shots, Brady Jr adjusted and began breaking Land down to the body. Land couldn’t continue to the third round, and even during the second round said on camera that he was done. A solid performance from the 18-year-old.
Kasir “Mazzi” Goldston got his first pro knockout win despite his father Tyshaun Goldston not being in the corner since his father tested positive for COVID-19 and wasn’t allowed in the bubble. Goldston, who was cornered by Kay Koroma for this bout, looked sharp, fast, and smart.
Goldston was a dominant amateur and is someone fight fans should observe, especially at welterweight.
Joshua Stops Pulev
Heavyweight world champ Anthony Joshua did what he was supposed to do with a 39-year-old mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev, as Joshua stopped him in the ninth round, and totaled three knockdowns in the fight.
Despite beating a mandatory, this was a perfect fight to get the excitement back around Joshua as 2019 was a dreadful year for him as he was stopped by Andy Ruiz Jr., and then fought Ruiz scary, looking to coast to a decision to get his belts back. Joshua who held every advantage in this fight from speed to talent, got it done.
Now the next question is, does Joshua face Fury or Usyk next, as at this point these are the only suitable opponents, albeit I would take Joe Joyce as well.
Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie appears ready for a title shot, but his win over Nikodem Jezewski was more so scary. Jezewski took the fight on less than a week’s notice, and didn’t respond well to Okolie’s punches, the bout was waved off in the second round, and one has to hope Jezewski didn’t take long term damage in this bout.
Okolie will next face Krzysztof Glowacki for a world title.
Hughie Fury proved a point with Mariusz Wach, as Tyson Fury’s cousin, opted at times to bang with the brutal, and big Wach who might not be able to box, but he sure can do the tough stuff well. Fury was cut in the fight but looks to be developing well, despite losses in Fury’s career he is only 26-years-old, I trust in Peter Fury’s coaching, and think Fury can be formidable.
The bothersome plodder Martin Bakole picked up a hard-fought win over Sergey Kuzmin, who is Dmitry Bivol’s close friend and training partner. Bakole has a style that is fun, mauling, and based on his size, but it is as effective for longevity as burning a candle on both ends. It’ll be fun while it lasts but set your sights accordingly.
Colbert Makes A Statement
You might know him as “Lil B-Hopp” or as “Primetime”, but Chris Colbert, the 130 lbs fighter, has arrived. A larger than life persona, with longtime coach Aureliano Sosa in his corner, Colbert gave the fans what they wanted to see. Though Colbert’s hands at times were a bit too low for my liking, that doesn’t discount that Colbert defended his WBA interim world title last night in dominant fashion, stopping Jaime Arboleda in the eleventh round.
Colbert has the speed, the attitude, and the showmanship to be a star, the thing for Colbert is can he wait for his time or will he rush into the spotlight?
One thing is for sure, Colbert looks to be an organic, homegrown star on the rise for Premier Boxing Champions.
Richardson Hitchins will always be a fighter I enjoy watching. A strong educated jab, composed, and fast. The thing with Hitchins is he is a fighter for the purists of the sport, and Hitchins’ elusive style takes tremendous conditioning. Hitchins did well defeating Argenis Mendez in the co-main event.
Matt Korobov can not catch a break. in his last four fights, he gave Jermall Charlo a hard fight, got a questionable draw with Immanuwel Aleem, that most saw as a win for him, and won every round of a bout with Chris Eubank Jr. before getting injured and losing. Korobov had the same feat happen against Ronald Ellis.
A dreadfully uneventful fight saw Korobov’s body fail him once again, as after winning every round, Korobov was unable to walk and couldn’t answer the bell for the fourth round.
The result was bittersweet as Ellis gets the biggest win of his career, but more than likely not in the fashion he wanted.