Jeremiah Nakathila is a rare highly ranked contender in that he maintains a full-time job other than boxing.
Nakathila is a police officer in Windhoek, his hometown and the capital city of Namibia. Once Shakur Stevenson heard about Nakathila’s primary occupation during a press conference Thursday in Las Vegas, the former WBO featherweight champion added that to the long list of reasons he doesn’t think Nakathila has any chance to beat him Saturday night.
“Hey, I damn sure not losin’ to no cop,” Stevenson said. “I swear to God I’m not. I promise you. I swear to God, I’m not losin’ to no cop. I’ll never lose to 5-0.”
Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), a native of Newark, New Jersey, and Nakathila (21-1, 17 KOs) will fight for the WBO interim junior lightweight championship. ESPN will broadcast their 12-round, 130-pound title fight as the main event of a doubleheader from The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas (10 p.m. EDT; 7 p.m. PDT).
The William Hill sports book lists Stevenson as a 50-1 favorite against Nakathila. The 31-year-old Nakathila hasn’t boxed anyone nearly as good as Stevenson, but he has won 10 straight bouts by knockout since Evgeny Chuprakov (then 16-0) beat him by 12-round majority decision in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Chuprakov’s hometown, in November 2016.
The winner between Stevenson, 23, and Nakathila, 31, likely will battle WBO junior lightweight champ Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) in his next fight. Stevenson is the WBO’s number one contender for Herring’s title and Nakathila is ranked second.
Stevenson would’ve preferred facing Herring on Saturday night, but the 2016 Olympic silver medalist assured Nakathila and everyone else that he hasn’t overlooked his unknown, unproven opponent.
“I mean, at the end of the day, we seen a lot of upsets these past two years in boxing,” Stevenson said. “From Anthony Joshua, when he lost to Ruiz. You watched Josh Warrington lose to the dude [Mauricio] Lara. So, we seen a lot of upsets. You can’t just go in there and sleep on this dude. This dude coming to fight at the end of the day, so I’m well prepared, I’m ready for Saturday and I’m gonna give it my all.”
The opener of ESPN’s doubleheader is a 10-round junior welterweight bout in which Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs), a two-division champion from Puerto Rico, will box Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs), of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.