By: Sean Crose
Undefeated juggernaut Shakur Stevenson headlined a Top Rank ESPN card on Saturday night, as he put his WBO junior lightweight title on the line against fellow juggernaut and WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez (whose own title belt was on the line, as well). The bout was scheduled for twelve rounds and went down at the MGM Grand in Vegas.
Stevenson started off flicking his southpaw jab in the first. Stevenson went on to start to put his punches together in the second. Valdez was, however, able to land to the body. Valdez then came alive in the third, landing straight right’s to Stevenson’s head. Stevenson was able to regain control in the fourth, largely keeping his man at bay.
Valdez had his moments in the fifth, but Stevenson landed the better shots. A slip led to Valdez losing balance in the sixth. Shakur took advantage of the moment and quickly put Valdez down on the mat. Stevenson became quite aggressive after Valdez got back to his feet. In fact, he seemed to be working towards the goal of finishing his man within the distance.
By the seventh it was clear that, as good as he was, Valdez was getting beaten up by Stevenson. Valdez certainly had his moments, but they were too few and far between. The eighth saw Stevenson effectively employ range in order to keep his man away and to landed effectively on his own. Ultimately, however, it was Stevenson’s jab that was telling the story of the match.
Valdez landed well in the ninth, but Stevenson landed better. It was worth wondering whether Valdez would be able to make it until the final bell. Valdez kept trudging forward in the tenth, but it was more of the same. Perhaps more head movement would have helped, but Stevenson was so domineering by that point that it was hard to imagine Valdez finding a way to beat him outside of a lucky punch.
The eleventh round essentially showcased Valdez desperately wanting to get the better of his man, and Stevenson holding him off with jabs, footwork and clean punching. This much has to be given to Valdez – he kept on coming, even during the final round. Simply put, the man just wasn’t good enough to best Stevenson. That was something the judges were well aware of, as they rewarded Stevenson with a unanimous decision victory.
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