ATLANTA – Shakur Stevenson senses that Jamel Herring intends to press him Saturday night.
The skillful southpaw figures Herring will be more aggressive than usual in an effort to try to make him feel uncomfortable during their 12-round fight for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title. By bringing the fight to Stevenson, Herring and his team would try to out-work an opponent who drew a lot of criticism for his inactivity during his last fight.
If that’s the strategy Herring tries to employ, Stevenson is certain it won’t work. In fact, the former WBO featherweight champion claims that would actually benefit him in a main event ESPN will broadcast from State Farm Arena (10:30 p.m. EDT).
“It sound like that’s what they asking him to do,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday at the Omni Atlanta Hotel at CNN Center. “I mean, maybe he’s finesse and he’s gonna go in there and try to box. But from what they saying, they sound like that he’s planning on coming forward and pressing the action. That’s even better for me.”
Stevenson convincingly beat Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila in his most recent action, a 12-rounder for the WBO interim junior lightweight championship June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. The 24-year-old Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) shut out a limited Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs) on all three scorecards and won 120-107, 120-107, 120-107 thanks in part to causing a flash knockdown late in the fourth round.
The 2016 Olympic silver medalist still apologized on social media in the immediate aftermath of that victory because he felt like he didn’t perform up to his capabilities. Herring, who sat ringside for that bout, wasn’t overly impressed by Stevenson’s performance (https://www.boxingscene.com/jamel-herring-shakur-got-touched-by-nakathila-like-it-react-well-it--161403).
Stevenson still is listed by Caesars Sportsbook as a 9-1 favorite to beat Herring, who will make the fourth defense of the WBO 130-pound crown he won from Japan’s Masayuki Ito in May 2019.
Despite the wide odds, Cincinnati’s Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) should benefit from his training team’s complete familiarity with Stevenson’s style and habits. Herring works with Terence Crawford’s trainers, Brian McIntyre and Jacqui “Red” Spikes, who have kept watchful eyes on Stevenson’s development since the Newark, New Jersey, native turned pro in April 2017.
“I think his team think that I don’t throw enough punches,” Stevenson said. “They think I pot-shot one at a time and they’re planning on coming in there and out-working me. That’s what I hear all in the media, they saying it’s gonna be the person who throws the most punches [who usually wins], not about the person who connect with the most punches. I just disagree with that, so I’m gonna have to show them Saturday.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.