Fight Of The Month (January 2023) | David Stevens vs Sean Hemphill
David Stevens vs. Sean Hemphill
We have always loved ShoBox: The Next Generation, and a big reason is Gordon Hall’s eye to pick great fights for the program. A super middleweight clash between two undefeated fighters pitted local Reading, Pa super middleweight David Stevens taking on undefeated Sean Hemphill. Stevens had Ronnie Shields in his corner, and Hemphill with Buddy McGirt in his respective corner. Two legendary coaches, two undefeated fighters, one historic program, and one great fight.
It was a battle of wills, as Stevens pressed forward, but Sean Hemphill kept the distance well, for most of the fight up until the end.
“…honestly at that point I was just fighting,” said Stevens about the eighth-round stoppage. “I didn’t know how the judges had it scored and I knew I wasn’t executing like I should have been, and I had to pick it up like my corner was telling me. Near the end I just had to stay relaxed. I think I could have done a better. Just improved on a little bit of everything. We were both breathing pretty heavy near the end there and I knew I just needed to keep pushing.”
Stevens reflects that in the fifth round, Hemphill caught him with a body shot that took some the air out of his tires. The fight saw Hemphill box well early, and Stevens slowly start to close the gap. Most observers felt that Hemphill was up, despite not being up on the official cards at the time of the stoppage, so the dramatic finish appeared to be the boxing equivalent of a walk-off home-run.
Even more telling and iconic is the sole of Stevens’ left boxing shoe was coming apart during the fight, as it was cut off at a certain point by one of his cornermen.
ITRboxing’s senior staff writer, Dakota McCormick said the following about the fight and why it was selected.
“This was an eight-round fight that had the energy and feeling of a 12-round fight, said our senior staff writer, McCormick. “[The fight] is amazing as everything in boxing would tell them not to [take this fight] since the loser leaves with a 1 at the end of their record, but this was just such a fantastic fight, and Hemphill himself proved something in this fight as well.”
ITRBoxing’s founder, Felix Gracia Jr., had this to say about the fight.
“David Stevens is my prospect of the year,” said Gracia Jr during a live chat this week on ITRBoxing.com’s YouTube page. “I don’t care that it is only January, this is my pick.”
Stevens was up on all three scorecards with the scores of 68-65 when the bout was stopped at 2:58 of the eighth and final round.
Artur Beterbiev vs. Anthony Yarde – A battle of a legendary unbeaten light heavyweight champion in Artur Beterbiev, taking on a trash-talking, brash and confident Anthony Yarde. What we got was an even fight, one in which Yarde overachieved showing his heart, which was quantifiable by him out throwing Beterbiev, while Beterbiev showed his talent by landing more by throwing less. It was talent vs. heart, youth vs experience and in the end, the veteran long-reigning champion, won the bout, like all of his other pro contests via knockout.
Abraham Nova vs. Adam Lopez – An evenly matched bout that saw Abraham Nova impressively defeat Adam Lopez, dropping Lopez twice, albeit one of the knockdowns shouldn’t have been called. This was on the wake of Nova being stopped nearly a year-to-the-date in the same building by Robesiy Ramirez.
Kim Clavel vs Jessica Nery Plata – A great back-and-forth fight that saw both in wild exchanges that started the year on ESPN+. Under the radar, but extremely good.
Rashidi Ellis vs Roiman Villa – The tale of two fights, not cities. Ellis won the first seven or so rounds, with the tide shifting around the fifth round…but when Villa took over, he truly did. Villa knocked down Ellis in the final round, twice, once at the final bell. A dramatic finish, would be the setting for a dramatic comeback. Though some didn’t like the judging result, it was close, and worthy of a rematch at some point. Villa is now the #1 contender for the IBF welterweight world title after this win, and would face either interim champion Jaron “Boots” Ennis, or current champion, Errol Spence Jr.