Shakur Stevenson does not intend to let his ego run amok after picking up the most impressive win of his career.
The WBC and WBO junior lightweight titleholder from Newark, New Jersey, is riding high after a career-best performance against Oscar Valdez, April 30 in Las Vegas, dominating the Mexican over 12 rounds to win a lopsided unanimous decision.
Stevenson, however, understands that there is a tendency among many fighters, upon a significant win, to grow big-headed at the expense of their craft. Stevenson singled out former unified lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez as a particularly salient cautionary example.
In October of 2020, Lopez defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko to pick up three of the four major lightweight titles, catapulting him to another level in the boxing stratosphere. But the euphoria and achievement would not last long. In his next bout, Lopez, seemingly addled by a number of physical and mental ailments, dropped a unanimous decision to George Kambosos Jr. of Australia. (Kambosos will defend his newly won lightweight belts against Devin Haney June 5 at Marvel Stadium in Melbourne, Australia).
Lopez has offered curious remarks about his performance against Kambosos; some of them might charitably be called “baseless.” The Brooklyn-born fighter is expected to revamp his career at the 140-pound limit moving forward, possibly as early as late summer.
“I just felt like [Lopez] should’ve stayed focused after that,” Stevenson said on The DAZN Boxing Show. “You can’t let certain things – like how I just beat [Valdez], I’m not going to let that go to my head.”
Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), a highly technical southpaw, had his way with the normally dangerous Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), a former two-division titlist. The Newark native peppered Valdez with sharp jabs and straight lefts all night, while mixing in hard body shots as well. The win gives Stevenson possession of two (WBO, WBC) of the lightweight belts; the other two are owned by Kenichi Ogawa (IBF) and Roger Gutierrez (WBA).
Stevenson pointed out that Lopez’s overconfidence led him to getting “clipped” with a shot by Kambosos in the opening round of their fight, which led to Lopez suffering a knockdown.
Stevenson said he will not allow himself to be swayed by such sentiment.
“I’m gonna go into my next fight and continue to be me,” Stevenson said. “I’m not gonna go outside myself and say, ‘Oh, I wanna knock this guy out in the first round and go in there and get myself clipped.’ Ain’t gonna happen.”