Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Preview: Stevenson vs. Simion, Benavidez vs. Crawford
By: William Holmes
Top Rank Promotions will promote a card featuring arguably their best pound for pound fighter, Terence Crawford, in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska in the main event of an ESPN televised card.
Crawford will face fellow undefeated welterweight Jose Benavidez for Crawford’s WBO Welterweight title.
The co-main event of the night will be between former Olympian and high level prospect Shakur Stevenson and Viorel Simion in a junior lightweight bout.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
The undercard will feature several intriguing fights, including a junior middleweight bout between Carlos Adames and Josh Conley, ad junior welterweight bout between Mike Alvarado and Robbie Cannon, and a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Vanessa Bradford.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Shakur Stevenson (8-0) vs. Viorel Simion (21-2); Junior Lightweights
Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank’s most coveted prospects, and he was a silver medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. On paper he’ll be facing the toughest test of his career, Viorel Simion, a former Olympic participant in the 2004 Summer games.
Stevenson is still very young and will be sixteen years younger than his 37 year old opponent. He will also have a two inch height advantage.
Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native, has won three of his past five fights by stoppage and has never faced anyone with a losing record. He only has four stoppage wins on his resume, but has been very active since turning pro. He fought four times in 2017 and has already fought four times in 2018.
Simion, from Romania, has nine KO wins on his resume and isn’t known for his power. This Romanian boxer lost the two fights where he stepped up in competition, to Scott Quigg and Lee Selby. Simion has fought mainly in Eurpe and fought once in 2017 and twice in 2016.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Carlos Ruiz, Aelio Mesquita, Roxberg Patrick Riley, and Juan Tapia. He also went 2-0 n the World Series of Boxing.
Simion has defeated the likes of Andoni Gago, Alexander Miskirtchian, and Ryan Sermona. The few times he stepped up his level of competition he was soundly beat.
This is a bout that Stevenson should win comfortably, but Simion is a good experienced boxer to gauge where Stevenson currently is in his professional development.
Terence Crawford (33-0) vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.(27-0); WBO Welterweight Title
Terence Crawford will be stepping into the ring with a younger, taller, and longer undefeated challenger on Saturday.
Crawford is still in his prime, but Benavidez is five years younger than him. Benavidez will also have about a six inch height advantage and a three inch reach advantage.
Crawford does appear to have an edge in power. He has stopped twenty four of his opponents, and seven of his past eight fights were stoppage victories. Benavidez only has eighteen stoppage victories, and three of his past five fights were by way of stoppage.
Both boxers had relatively successful amateur careers. Crawford was a former PAL National Champion while Benavidez was a former US National Golden Gloves Champion.
Both boxers have been fairly active in 2018 but Crawford has been the more active fighter of the two since 2016. Crawford fought once in 2018, twice in 2017, and three times in 2016. Benavidez fought twice in 2018 and only once 2016.
Benavidez was also shot in 2016 and missed all of 2017 as a result.
Crawford has soundly beaten every man he has faced so far. He has beaten the likes of Jeff Horn, Julius Indongo, Felix Diaz, John Molina Jr., Viktor Postol, Hank Lundy, Dierry jean, Thomas Dulrome, Raymundo Beltran, Yoriorkis Gamboa, and Ricky Burns.
Benavidez does not have the professional resume of Crawford, but he has beaten some decent boxers. He has defeated the likes of Frank Rojas, Matthew Strode, Francisco Santana, Jorge Paez Jr., Mauricio Herrera, and Pavel Miranda.
However, his win against Herrera is disputed by many who thought Herrera deserved the decision in that bout.
This is a major, major step up in competition for Benavidez. Unfortunately for him, he has never faced anyone near the level of Terrance Crawford and it is this writer’s opinion that he will be in over his head on Saturday night.