By Keith Idec
Shakur Stevenson made a conscious decision before his fight Friday night to box the way that best suits him.
The 2016 Olympic silver medalist admits he previously was too concerned about criticism of his tactical approach in the ring. Stevenson still is a work in progress, but the undefeated featherweight prospect’s smart, patient approach paid off throughout the skillful southpaw’s easy eight-round victory over Juan Tapia in Reno, Nevada.
The Newark, New Jersey, native worked well off his jab, consistently went to Tapia’s body and mostly defended himself well while out-pointing Tapia in the first eight-rounder of Stevenson’s 10-month pro career. The 20-year-old Stevenson (5-0, 2 KOs) won a unanimous decision as he won every round against Tapia (8-2, 3 KOs) on all three scorecards (80-72, 80-72, 80-72).
ESPN televised Stevenson’s victory as part of the Ray Beltran-Paulus Moses undercard from Grand Sierra Resort and Casino.
The 24-year-old Tapia, of Brownsville, Texas, had hoped to knock off an unbeaten boxer in a second straight fight. He stopped Mexico’s Irving Tapia (4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round of his previous fight, September 22 in Brownsville.
He usually allowed Stevenson to dictate distance, though, and couldn’t accomplish much more than landing one occasional punch at a time.
Also on the card, in a battle of unbeatens, Olympic gold medal winner Robson Conceicao (6-0, 4KOs) scored a first round knockdown and then dominated Ignacio Holguin (5-1-1, 5KOs) for a six round unanimous decision.
Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings (22-2, 13 KOs) demolished overmatched Akhror Muralimov (16-4) in three rounds. Jennings put Muralimov down twice in round one from body shots, once more in round two from a hard right and two more times in the third round the TKO stoppage.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.