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SHAKUR STEVENSON, THE UNBEATEN YOUNG STAR, IS SCHEDULED TO FACE RELATIVELY UNKNOWN NAMIBIAN JEREMIAH NAKATHILA IN LAS VEGAS
SHAKUR STEVENSON (15-0, 8 KOs)
vs. JEREMIAH NAKATHILA (21-0, 17 KOs)
Date: Saturday, June 12
Time: 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT (main event later in show)
Where: Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas
TV/Stream: ESPN, ESPN+
Cost: ESPN+ is $5.99 per month or $59.99 annually
Division: Junior lightweight
At stake: Vacant WBO “interim”
Pound-for-pound ranking: None
Odds: Stevenson 32-1 favorite (average of multiple outlets)
Also on the card: Jose Pedraza vs. Julian Rodriguez, junior welterweights
Prediction: Stevenson KO 7
Background: Stevenson, the Olympic silver medalist and former 126-pound titleholder, is taking another step toward a world title shot in a second division. This will be the 23-year-old southpaw’s third fight at 130, having stopped Felix Caraballo in six rounds in June of last year and shut out Toka Khan Clary in December. Stevenson, the WBO’s No. 1-ranked contender, will fight the unranked Nakathila for the sanctioning body’s “interim” title. Jamel Herring is the WBO titleholder. Nakathila, evidently a big puncher, has a gaudy record and has won 10 consecutive fights – all by knockout – since his only setback. However, he has fought outside Africa only once in his career, a 2016 bout in Russia. Thus, the 31-year-old from the Nambian coast is a bit of a mystery going into the biggest fight of his life. And, obviously, Stevenson represents an enormous step up in opposition. On the undercard, former two-division titleholder Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) faces young contender Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) in a scheduled 10-round 140-pound bout. Pedraza has won two in a row since he was outpointed by Jose Zepeda, including an impressive decision over Javier Molina in September.