Shakur Stevenson easily executed his game plan the last time he fought for a WBO belt in October.
The undefeated southpaw picked apart Joet Gonzalez throughout their 12-round fight for the then-vacant WBO featherweight title in October 2019. When their one-sided championship match ended, Gonzalez, who entered their fight undefeated, had won only one round apiece on all three scorecards at Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada (119-109, 119-109, 119-109).
Almost two years to the day later, Stevenson envisions putting on another superb performance Saturday night in Atlanta. That’s where the 24-year-old Stevenson will attempt to become a two-weight world champion against Jamel Herring.
Though the challenger, Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) is listed by Caesars Sportsbook as a 9-1 favorite to take the WBO junior lightweight championship from Cincinnati’s Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) in a fight ESPN will televise from State Farm Arena, the home venue of the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks.
“It’s definitely an amazing opportunity,” Stevenson stated during a press conference recently. “We back here, back again, fighting for another world title. My last world title, I fought [for] in October. This world title I fight [for] in October. It’s gonna be no different. I’m coming there to dominate. Jamel is a solid fighter. He got a great team around him. But it’s gonna be my night. That’s how I feel.”
Herring has been prepared for this showdown with Stevenson by the same training team that works with pound-for-pound star Terence Crawford, who has mentored Stevenson since the 2016 Olympic silver medalist turned pro early in 2017. Stevenson doesn’t think the inside knowledge Herring’s team possesses gives Herring much of an advantage because Herring, a 35-year-old southpaw, ultimately is the one who must implement what they’ll tell him during their 12-round, 130-pound title fight.
In fact, Stevenson expects to produce the type of performance that’ll make skeptics look beyond the mundane win he recorded in his previous fight – a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs) on June 12 in Las Vegas.
“I think they should expect a superstar to be born, at the end of the day,” Stevenson said. “Jamel Herring is a solid fighter. The better the fighter is, the better I get. So, I feel like he gonna come in there and turn me up, and I’m gonna turn up.”
Herring-Stevenson will headline a three-bout broadcast by ESPN.
The network’s telecast, scheduled to begin at 10:30 p.m. EDT, also will include a six-round junior middleweight bout between Xander Zayas (10-0, 7 KOs), of Sunrise, Florida, and Dan Karpency (9-3-1, 4 KOs), of Adah, Pennsylvania. A four-round middleweight match in which Las Vegas’ Nico Ali Walsh (1-0, 1 KOs), a grandson of Muhammad Ali, is set to meet James Westley II (1-0, 0 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, also will be televised.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.