Shakur Stevenson Beats Oscar Valdez Via Decision to Unify Lightweight Titles

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMay 1, 2022

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 30: Shakur Stevenson laughs during his WBC and WBO junior lightweight championship fight with Oscar Valdez at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 30, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc/Getty Images

Shakur Stevenson just may be the next big thing in boxing. The 24-year-old rising star put on a clinic against Oscar Valdez Saturday night, using powerful punches and excellent defense to score an unanimous decision victory and unify two of the junior lightweight world titles.

The judges scored the bout 118-109, 118-109, 117-110, per the ESPN broadcast.

Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), coming off an impressive stoppage win over Jamel Herring, again proved he has the goods to beat top-tier veterans. He established the jab early on, had great timing on counterpunches and was able to neutralize his opponent's attacks with ease. 

Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), a two-division world champion, had difficulty establishing pressure throughout the contest. There would be no controversy in the first loss of his excellent career.

Stevenson now holds the WBO and WBC world junior lightweight titles. He also won the Ring Magazine junior lightweight championship, and fittingly brought another type of ring with him to the event, as he proposed to his girlfriend following the match.

Brian Campbell @BCampbell

Shakur Stevenson just proposed to the mother of his daughter during his post-fight interview. She said yes. What a night. #ValdezStevenson

It really was the younger fighter's night all around, as he dominated his most accomplished opponent yet.

Stevenson had the bigger frame and longer reach, and used those advantages well. He consistently fired the jab, keeping Valdez from getting in close. When he really had the jab going, Stevenson was able to follow it up with smart combinations. At other times, he used it to find the range against Valdez and get his timing right for counterpunches.

Andreas Hale @AndreasHale

Valdez is chasing Shakur around the ring but not landing much. Shakur gets him to sit still and lands a pair of body shots. Valdez fires a combination and catches air and gloves. 10-9 Stevenson (30-27 Stevenson)

Faced with that difficult jab, Valdez had to get creative. Early on, the 31-year-old Mexican wasn't moving around enough, and Stevenson had little trouble lining him up. In the third round, Valdez brought some more side to side movement, and it paid dividends. He tagged Stevenson with 15 punches, tied for the most he had absorbed in any fight to that point, per the ESPN broadcast. Some of the best punches, including a couple of good body shots, came after Valdez was able to get his front foot outside of the southpaw and fire off his power punches.

Top Rank Boxing @trboxing

.@OscarValdez56 is finding his range 🎯 #ValdezStevenson | LIVE on ESPN https://t.co/HX03UkEMOl

The movement and aggressive style backfired on Valdez in the sixth round. Stevenson sent an off-balance Valdez into the ropes with a right hook then tagged him again with a quick uppercut to score a knockdown. Valdez was unhappy with the call, but his swollen face and unsteady legs told a different story.

Top Rank Boxing @trboxing


By the time of the knockdown, it was clear Stevenson had the better tactics. He was able to time Valdez's lunges and score with crisp power shots. The threat of his left hand seemed to paralyze Valdez at times, as he stayed in a defensive posture and made an easy target at midrange. Stevenson mixed up his attacks, using jabs, uppercuts and changing levels. His defense was excellent as well, pulling back from Valdez's punches and catching him off balance with counter shots.

Patrick Connor @PatrickMConnor

Valdez walking into cleaner and cleaner counters. Finally he lands another nice right hand. Back to covering up, however.

Even though Stevenson was in control of the fight, he never did anything reckless. Valdez has proven himself to be dangerous in the later rounds; he scored an epic knockout of Miguel Berchelt in February of last year as a heavy underdog. Stevenson made sure he didn't suffer a similar fate. Valdez was able to break through from time to time with his aggression, but Stevenson had an answer for just about everything.

Rosie Perez @rosieperezbklyn

Shakur just knows how to fight. Smart quick and clean with it. #ValdezStevenson @trboxing @espn

After the bout, Stevenson said he would like to become undisputed champion at 130 pounds. As of right now, Roger Gutierrez is the WBA champion, and Kenichi Ogawa holds the IBF belt. Either boxer would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer for Stevenson, who seems to be improving with every fight.