BoxingFight Previews

Shakur Stevenson Faces Nakathila Saturday, Puts Pressure On Herring

When: 7 PM PST on ESPN, undercard starts earlier on ESPN+

Where: Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Nevada.

In fifteen fights and eighty-one professional rounds, Shakur Stevenson has already become a world champion in the featherweight division, and struck fear into the heart of current WBO super featherweight champion, Jamel Herring, so much so Stevenson is fighting for the WBO interim super featherweight title, against lesser-known Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17 KOs), who is the mandatory challenger to win this belt on June 12 from the Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV, on ESPN.

Stevenson, who beat Joet Gonzalez, a very good Mexican pressure fighter, to win the vacant WBO featherweight world title, moved up to 130 lbs last July in the return of boxing, defeating Felix Caraballo, and former Top Rank fighter Toka Kahn Clary. Despite being the number one contender, current WBO champ, Herring has gone other ways, opting to fight an aging Carl Frampton, and now trying to align himself with WBC super featherweight world champion, Oscar Valdez, which is basically just holding up the division, for the younger fighters eager to prove themselves.

Yet, Stevenson is unbothered, as a win on Saturday night puts Stevenson in a simple position, you either fight me or give up your belt, and I become the full-on champion.

Stevenson’s opponent, Nakathila has a good right hand, some power, and is tough, Stevenson should take away his best attributes and walk him down towards the middle rounds. Now add that fans have no relationship to Nakathila – as Nakathila has had all of his fights in Namibia and none of his opponents are recognizable, the bout doesn’t generate the excitement of a known opponent.

This leaves Stevenson between a rock-and-a-hard-place, Stevenson, one of the special fighters of his generation, with a win, will have held world titles in two division by 16 professional fights, and at the age of 23-years-old, but unlike peers such as Teofimo Lopez, none of the current world champions, seem eager to give him a chance. It is not unlike 2012 U.S. Olympian Errol Spence Jr., who had trouble getting a world champion in the ring during the height of his run.

For those unaware, Stevenson is a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, who lost to Robeisy Ramirez in the finals, since then Stevenson has been a boxing purists delight, while fight fans await “the big fight” to judge him solely on that, and not his body of work. Yet, looking beneath the surface wins over Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz and Joet Gonzalez are very solid for any fighter at any point in their career.

Stevenson is one of the special fighters, and this bout though on paper is nothing sexy, will put him in position from a business stand-point to force, WBO super featherweight world champion, Jamel Herring, to make a decision, something that has been hard for him up until this point.

Stevenson looks to not just perform come Saturday night, but also get fans excited for his return, as Stevenson is the next Top Rank fighter to go to the next level, with the only thing that can stop him, in my opinion, is himself.

Stevenson faces Nakathila, Saturday June 12th, on ESPN, at 7 PM PST.

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Lukie Ketelle

Lukie Ketelle