Shakur Stevenson blossomed into a bona fide pound-for-pounder in his last two fights.
Last October he made veteran 130-pound champion Jamel Herring look amateurish in a 10-round stoppage. Then, outdoing himself this past April, he outclassed previously unbeaten Oscar Valdez in a title-unification bout to win a wide decision.
Next up for the 2016 Olympic silver medalist: Robson Conceicao on Friday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Stevenson’s home town (ESPN, ESPN+).
“It was a beautiful display of boxing,” Stevenson told RingTV.com, referring to the victory over Valdez. “I think I showed a lot of skill in that fight. I picked him apart. That was the biggest fight of my career and I did everything I was supposed to do.
“I did everything I said I was going to do. He’s a great fighter but he was just in with better opposition.”
Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs) presumably will be too, although he might be a better pure boxer than Herring and Valdez.
The 33-year-old Brazilian won a gold medal in the lightweight division at the 2016 Games, in which Stevenson was runner up at bantamweight to Cuban Robeisy Ramírez.
Conceicao came up short in his only professional title shot, losing a unanimous decision (117-110, 115-112 and 115-112) to then-champion Valdez a year ago. However, some believe he deserved the nod in that fight.
He rebounded by easily outpointing previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez in January.
“He’s a good fighter,” Stevenson said Wednesday. “But I think he lost against Valdez. If you left it in the judges’ hands, then you lost. I fought Valdez, and I beat the s— out of him. I don’t have any excuses.
“He’s talking about having COVID or something before his last fight. All I hear are excuses. I’m ready to fight. Tell him to not have any excuses on Friday night. I’m ready to beat him up.”
Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) will be fighting at 130 pounds for the sixth time. Could it be his finale at the weight?
He has hinted that it’s getting difficult to make 130, meaning he’ll soon be moving up to the deep, more glamorous lightweight division. Fans are already clamoring for a showdown between Stevenson and undisputed 135-pound champion Devin Haney.
Of course, Stevenson can pursue another belt at 130 against either Hector Garcia (WBA) or Joe Cordina (IBF) or perhaps face both in pursuit of the undisputed championship in that division.
He told RingTV.com that he hasn’t made a decision on his next step, assuming he beats Conceicao.
“I can’t give you an answer on that, I’ll have to see when I finish my weight cut,” he said. “I don’t know how hard the weight cut is going to be. I would love to go undisputed by grabbing each belt, one by one.
“But if I can’t do the weight, I’m not going to force myself to go down in weight when I really don’t have to. I’m taking each fight as it comes.”
He knows only one thing.
“At the end of the day, I don’t know how big I’m going to get,” he said. “I don’t know what weight class I’m going to fall in, but anywhere I’m at, I’m going to dominate.”
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