In an interesting semi to the Nonito Donaire-Rafael Concepcion mismatch, workmanlike Steven Luevano faces a young but untested Bernabe Concepcion tonight for the WBX doohickey at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Luevano, fighting out of La Puente, California, is not often mentioned among the big names at the featherweight and junior lighweight divisions, but he has been fighting steadily since stopping Nicky Cook in 2007 to become one of at least 68 “world champions” in boxing and seems perfectly content to fight on pay-per-view undercards for modest purses.
Leuvano, 28, has looked somewhat rickety recently and it is possible that he has already reached his peak as a fighter. He was dropped by Mario Santiago during a brutal slugfest in 2008 and at times appeared on the verge of being stopped. He was lucky to emerge from that scrap with a draw. Against Terdsak Jandaeng, Leuvano was in control throughout until suffering a knockdown in the fourth round. He recovered to win a lopsided decision, although he was stunned on a few more occasions by big powershots. Finally, in his last fight, bizarre Billy Dib, whose style seems partly inspired by tantarism, made Luevano look sluggish over twelve rounds but was otherwise ineffective. Concepcion appears to be a much simpler puzzle to solve.
One thing is seems fairly certain: Luevano, the cautious boxer, will not score a knockout. He has stopped only one opponent, Nicky Cook, in five years and Concepcion, at 5’4”, appears to be the sturdy type. In fact, Luevano has gone at least 10 rounds on 10 consecutive occasions. This may account for how jaded Leuvano has looked over the last year or so.
Concepcion, 29-1-1 (16), is alleged to possess serious power, but that cannot truly be determined due to the poor quality of opposition he has been facing. Luevano has faced by far the better competition. Besides Cook and Santiago, Luevano has also defeated Cristobal Cruz. For his part, Concepcion owns victories over part-time plugger Gabriel Elizondo and chinny Adam Carrera. He has also beaten a slew of journeyman Filipinos. With such a thin resume in hand, it is hard to determine what, exactly, Concepcion will bring to the ring with him on Saturday aside from shoes, trunks, a mouthpiece, and a pair of gloves.
Nothing indicates that Concepcion, 21, belongs in the ring with Luevano at this point: Concepcion is slow of foot, defensively shaky, fairly unimaginative in the ring, and inexperienced. He also looked raw and occasionally ragged against inadequate Giovanni Caro before scoring a sudden knockout. The only real x-factor going into this bout is how well Leuvano can hold up physically to a determined challenge from an aggressive opponent. On the other hand, this match appears, at first glance, to be a meeting of two fighters going in opposite directions. The outcome depends on the rate of acceleration for each. It looks like Leuvano, 36-1-1 (15), is going downhill at a slower pace than Concepcion is going uphill. Luevano should be able to use his boxing skills and southpaw stance, along with a jab primed for overtime use, to cop a narrow decision.