Shakur Stevenson’s arrival into the lightweight division came more suddenly than anyone expected, but it injected a jolt of excitement into what many believe is boxing’s best division. Stevenson lost his unified super featherweight title on the scale last week — more on that in a bit — and is now an ex-champion in search of the biggest challenges in his newest division.
After putting a beating on Robson Conceicao on Friday at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Stevenson is now a full-time lightweight.
The division is stacked, with undisputed champion Devin Haney, secondary champion Gervonta Davis and a bunch of other accomplished fighters like Vasiliy Lomachenko in the mix. Stevenson is going to fight everyone there, he says, but he’s not as high on the division as most.
“It’s a division that everybody else thinks is going to be super hard for me and it’s going to get a lot harder and all that,” Stevenson told Yahoo Sports Tuesday. “But honestly, I feel like I’m on a different level and whatever weight class I’m in is going to be dominated by me.
“I’ll get more credit for beating these guys, but honestly, I feel it’s overrated. I feel like it’s an overrated division. Everybody overrates it and thinks it’s the biggest, baddest division in the world. I dominated at 126, I dominated at 130 and 135 ain’t going to be no difference.”
Even before he defeated Oscar Valdez in Las Vegas on April 30 to unify two of the super featherweight belts, he knew a move to lightweight was imminent. His body was growing, he was adding muscle and the weight cuts were increasingly difficult.
It’s why he spoke of the weight cut so frequently prior to the Conceicao fight. But even Stevenson didn’t have a true grasp of how hard it would turn out to be. He lost 12 pounds in a two-day period and his body shut down. He was annoyed by the reaction he got in many corners to his inability to hit 130 pounds on the nose.
It was a big homecoming fight for him and he wanted to make weight desperately.
“I was stressing so badly,” Stevenson said. “I was so mad. I was so angry. I knew [this might happen] because [the cuts] were getting harder and harder and harder. Honestly, this was my hardest fight week. I’ve never had a harder fight week than that. I literally had to lose 12 pounds in two days.”
Stevenson weighed in at 131.6 and opted not to try to cut any more because his body had given up. Fighters who miss weight have an opportunity to come back later and make it after trying to shed more. New Jersey rules permitted him two hours, but he passed. He knew a month out this may occur.
The reaction on social media was puzzlement and that Stevenson was using his wealth as a way to not have to do it.
“They were saying I was buying an advantage,” said Stevenson, who paid Conceicao a six-figure sum to get him to still fight. “But how could I buy an advantage when I lost 12 pounds from Tuesday to Thursday. I tried, believe me, to get that last 1.6. I did everything I could but I couldn’t get it off.”
And thus, he lost his titles though he did gain another advantage. Making lightweight, at least for the time being, is going to be easier for him than it is for a lot of his peers. He said that for the next little while, “I’ll make the weight the easiest and be the strongest and freshest in the division.”
But he didn’t call anyone out because he said he’ll eventually fight all of them. He likes Haney to retain the undisputed title when he defends against ex-champion George Kambosos Jr. in a rematch on Oct. 15 in Australia.
He did get a kick out of the banter between his promoter, Bob Arum of Top Rank, and Davis promoter Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions.
Ellerbe responded to a news story in which Arum said Ellerbe wouldn’t want Davis to fight Stevenson. Ellerbe took to Twitter and tagged Arum, saying, “ … I get it you’re just promoting your guy as you should. As you know it’s hard as hell building an attraction. Whatever we doing over here is definitely working because Tank Davis is bigger than anyone on your ENTIRE Top Rank roster not named Fury. Facts.”
This followed a Twitter battle that involved Ellerbe, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport and Lou DiBella of DBE, as well as some journalists.
“I don’t be paying attention to what they’re doing, but it’s definitely weird,” Stevenson said. “These promoters, they think they’re the ones fighting. We’re the fighters and they’re going back and forth acting like they be fighting. Leonard Ellerbe, anytime anyone says anything about his fighter, is going to come up with anything he thinks sounds good to say to come back. I ain’t worried about none of that.”
What he is going to do, he said, is seek out the best fights. And if some of the fighters move up before he gets to them at lightweight, he said he’ll see them eventually at 140.
“I’m going to stay active and fight everyone and at the end of the day, we’ll see how it all turns out,” he said.