NEWARK, New Jersey – Shakur Stevenson didn’t defend his 130-pound championships Friday night, but he battered Robson Conceicao for most of their 12-round fight to ensure Conceicao couldn’t win those two titles, either.
The unbeaten Stevenson dominated Conceicao throughout their bout at Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark. A day after losing his titles at the scale, Stevenson did everything except knock out the awkward, resilient Conceicao in a main event ESPN televised.
Stevenson sent Conceicao to the canvas with a body shot late in the fourth round, but Conceicao often employed rule-bending tactics and made it to the final bell, which disappointed the announced crowd of 10.107. Judges Lynne Carter (117-109), John Signorile (118-108) and Steve Weisfeld (117-109) scored Stevenson a wide winner.
“I think I kinda started loading up too much,” Stevenson said during his post-fight press conference. “I started trying to look for the knockout too much, but I did what I was supposed to do. I came in and beat him up, and that’s what I came here to do.”
Stevenson’s superb performance helped him forget, temporarily at least, losing his two 130-pound championships at the scale Thursday.
The 25-year-old Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs), who will move up to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds for his next fight, entered the ring as at least a 20-1 favorite, according to most sportsbooks. The former two-division champion dominated accordingly against an awkward opponent who was simply in over his head in virtually every way.
Stevenson was stripped of his WBC and WBO 130-pound championships Thursday because he came in 1.6 pounds overweight. Conceicao could’ve won those two belts had he pulled off what would’ve been a massive upset because he met his contractual obligation by weighing in at 129.6 pounds.
Brazil’s Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs), who won a gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, is 0-2 in world title fights, both of which have come in the past year.
This loss was much more definitive, however, than his 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Oscar Valdez last September 10 at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. Stevenson dominated Valdez in the native Mexican’s following fight to retain his WBO junior lightweight title and take the WBC super featherweight crown from Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) on April 30 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Stevenson chased Conceicao during the 12th round and tried to land the type of punch that could’ve ended their fight. The scrappy Conceicao wouldn’t allow it.
A left uppercut by Stevenson rocked Conceicao a little less than 40 seconds into the 11th round. The southpaw snapped Conceicao’s head back with a straight left that connected just after the midway mark of the 11th round.
A right hook by Stevenson made Conceicao stumble with just under 50 seconds to go in the 11th round.
Conceicao continued to try to rough up Stevenson during the 10th round. They continually wrestled, until Stevenson flung Conceicao to the canvas again with just over 30 seconds remaining in that round.
Fields, who deducted a point from Stevenson for a similar infraction in the ninth round, warned him this time.
Conceicao’s right hand landed a little less than a minute into the ninth round. Fields took a point away from Stevenson for flinging Conceicao to the canvas with just under 1:40 on the clock in the ninth round.
Many fans in the pro-Stevenson crowd chanted “knock him out” toward the end of the ninth round.
Conceicao caught Stevenson with a right hand a few seconds after the halfway point of the eighth round, but he couldn’t capitalize on landing that shot. Stevenson’s right hook clipped Conceicao with just under 30 seconds on the clock in the eighth round.
Stevenson spent most of the seventh round picking apart Conceicao to his head and body. A fast-fading Conceicao tried to fend off Stevenson, but he couldn’t contend with his opponent’s speed and accuracy.
With about 50 seconds remaining in the sixth round, Stevenson nailed Conceicao with a straight left in an exchange. Stevenson cleanly caught Conceicao with another hard left when there were about 20 seconds to go in the sixth round.
Fields warned Stevenson for a low blow with just over 1:20 on the clock in the sixth round. Stevenson’s thudding right to Conceicao’s body landed about 45 seconds into the sixth round.
Conceicao clipped Stevenson with a rare flush punch, a right hand on the inside, at just about the midway mark of the fifth round. Stevenson spent the first half of the fifth round landing hard head and body shots on Conceicao.
Following a dominant third round, Stevenson buzzed Conceicao with two left hands a little less than a minute into the fourth round. Conceicao couldn’t defend himself consistently against a sharp Stevenson by that point.
Conceicao went down to one knee just before the fourth round ended. Fields counted it as a knockdown because Stevenson landed a left hand to the body while they jostled for position inside.
Conceicao got up before Fields’ count reached five, though, and the bell sounded soon thereafter.
Stevenson rocked Conceicao with a straight left that made him hold and wrestle with Stevenson just before the midway mark of the third round. Conceicao felt Stevenson’s left to his body barely 30 seconds into the third round.
A left by Stevenson connected with about 35 seconds on the clock in the second round, in which Stevenson started to time Conceicao. Stevenson landed a right hook approximately 1:15 into the second round.
Less than 30 seconds later, Stevenson landed a left in an exchange. Stevenson landed a left to Conceicao’s body barely 40 seconds into the second round.
Stevenson knocked Conceicao off balance with a left hand with just over 1:10 to go in the first round.
Conceicao countered Stevenson with a right hand about 1:10 into the opening round. Stevenson blocked several right hands before Conceicao connected with that shot.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.