Undefeated, former featherweight world champion, Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KO’s) from Newark, New Jersey, will fight Namibian contender Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17 KO’s) for the WBO interim super featherweight world title on Saturday, June 12 in a Top Rank main event at the Theater at Virgin Hotels, Las Vegas.
After defeating Joet Gonzalez in October of 2019 to collect his first world title and become WBO featherweight champion, Stevenson moved up to super-featherweight and produced two dominant victories against Felix Caraballo and Toka Kahn Clary in consecutive Vegas main event headliners.
In his third headliner in Vegas, Stevenson will be tasked with using his pedigree and immense talent to overcome an opponent who has ten consecutive knockout victories since suffering a lone professional career loss.
Stevenson, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting and promising young talents in the sport. He is a sharpshooting, crafty fighter with a great jab and phenomenal defensive ability.
At just 23 years of age, Stevenson is not in his prime yet and is only growing stronger and better. However, in order to cement his position amongst the elite attractions in the sport, Stevenson must go to battle against elite opposition. Stevenson certainly passes the eye test with his extensive skill-set on display, but there is no substitute for attaining greatness than facing worthy dance partners.
Nevertheless, the winner of this fight seems guaranteed to fight the winner of a Valdez vs Herring unification fight. If that unification showdown does not happen, then one would think Herring would be ordered to fight the winner of Stevenson vs Nakathila, but who knows? Fans can never take anything for granted in boxing.
Nakathila is a 31-year-old from Namibia with an empty resume. He has not beaten any noteworthy opponents thus far, which does not mean he is not a good fighter, but it definitely means that heading into a fight against one of the most talented young fighters in the sport, he is a big underdog. Nakathila possesses power and is a threat offensively, but his aggression whilst throwing wild shots may result in him being a tailor-made opponent for Stevenson. Stevenson is that breed of fighter who does not rely on power and brute force, but IQ, defence, and a display of the purity of the sweet science.
In an interview with Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports, whilst previewing the fight, Stevenson said: “At the end of the day, if I’m being honest with you. None of them fighters he knocked out is me.” Stevenson proceeded to state it ‘is a whole different level’ that Nakathila will be coming up against this time.
Stevenson is absolutely right. The step-up in class for the Namibian will be significant here.
This will only be Nakathila’s second fight outside of Africa, the first time being his lone pro career loss to Evgeny Chuprakov in Russia in 2016. 20 of Nakathila’s 22 fights thus far have been in his home country of Namibia, with two of them being in South Africa and Russia. Aside from overcoming a tremendously talented foe in Stevenson, Nakathila will also have to deal with unfamiliarity in fighting on foreign territory.
All in all, Nakathila is clearly unproven, but that poses a serious danger in itself. Shakur cannot afford any complacency here.
Speaking to The Ring, Nakathila said: “Finally, I have an opportunity to introduce myself to the world. Stevenson is a great fighter, he was a champion, the darling of U.S. boxing, but he will, for the very first time, be facing a true African warrior. It will be a fight like none he has ever had to deal with.”
Heading into the biggest fight of his life, Nakathila will be determined to change his life.
“Fearless” by name, and certainly fearless by nature. Shakur has been vocal about wanting all the smoke with the champions, Herring and Valdez, for a while. For now, he must settle and be focused on Nakathila, after which, the shot at Herring must surely arrive. Stevenson has been viewed as the potential future of boxing, a future pound-for-pound star, but in order to live up to that potential, unknown opponents like Nakathila, as well as the elite, must be dealt with in equal measure.
With Nakathila, it’s something that we will all have heard before… you’re at your most dangerous when you have nothing to lose, and with all of the attention surrounding Stevenson’s next move after a routine victory against Nakathila, there is minimal pressure on the Namibian’s shoulders, and boxing has never been a sport unfamiliar with the most unexpected of results.
By Sina Latif of SimBoxx
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