Widely-regarded as one of boxing’s finest young talents, Shakur Stevenson was on the receiving end of some stinging criticism after a safety-first points victory over unsung Namibian Jeremiah Nakathila in June.
But two-weight champion turned analyst Timothy Bradley believes that will bring out the very best Stevenson when he faces WBO 130lbs champion Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Saturday night.
Attempting to become a two-division champion himself, Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) is fighting for respect according to Bradley, who believes a firefight will eventually break out in Saturday’s intriguing all-southpaw battle.
“Some folks are worried we might see another defence-heavy fight as Stevenson dictates the pace, and that’s certainly a possibility. But I see this fight being a lot better, exceeding expectations,” Bradley told ESPN.com.
“When you have two southpaws, someone has to get aggressive. And that someone will probably be Herring, because he’s not going to outbox Stevenson, so he’ll have to get aggressive and push the issue.
“The criticism from Stevenson’s last fight will probably be in the back of his head, and push him to be more aggressive as well. I see a really good chess match in the beginning turning into a firefight towards the back end in this fight. Herring is going to give everything he has, and Stevenson, the younger, fresher, hungrier fighter has a lot to prove.
“Stevenson’s fighting for more than a world title in a second division. He’s fighting for respect. Boxing is more than a championship. World titles and money, every fighter is after that, but you can’t set aside what it means to be respected and loved by the fans and the boxing community. It is important. I think we’re going to see the best Shakur Stevenson that we’ve ever seen.
“While everyone’s looking for a technical fight and a 12-round boxing decision, I think Stevenson is going to look for a KO shot late, and I think he’s going to do it with the left hand. He’s going to find a way to open a cut up, and that’s going to make things very, very difficult for Herring, with blood dripping down in his eyes and everything else he’s going to have to be dealing with. I think Stevenson steps it up and stops Herring late, in the 11th or 12th round, or settles for a decision with Herring hanging on at the end.”
Main image: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.