LAS VEGAS – Shakur Stevenson expressed appreciation for the crowd that created a memorable atmosphere Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
The undefeated, unified 130-pound champion realizes that the majority of an announced crowd of 10,102 was there to support his opponent, Oscar Valdez. Stevenson also admitted that the strong support Valdez received in large part from proud Mexican boxing fans motivated him even more to dominate the previously unbeaten former WBC super featherweight champion.
The 24-year-old Stevenson embraced the role of villain and taunted Valdez’s fans at times during what amounted to a masterful performance from one of this sport’s emerging stars. The left-handed Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) defeated Valdez convincingly on the scorecards of judges Tim Cheatham (117-110), Dave Moretti (118-109) and David Sutherland (118-109).
Following his 12-round, unanimous-decision win, Stevenson acknowledged that he “most definitely” enjoyed silencing Valdez’s supporters in a main event ESPN televised.
“I wanted to shut them up,” Stevenson said during his post-fight press conference. “Like when I was walking out, I kept hearing them scream louder and louder. And I told myself, ‘I’m gonna shut them up.’ And as the fight was going, I just heard crickets. I heard quiet. And it felt good shutting them up. And that’s why I told them, ‘Shhh!’ But at the end of the day, I’m glad that they came out to support. I don’t got no bad feelings towards them. I’m glad that they came out and I appreciate them.”
Bob Arum, Stevenson’s 90-year-old promoter, believes Stevenson’s superb performance will enhance his profile among casual and even hardcore boxing fans. Arum needs more evidence of Stevenson’s ability to sell substantial amounts of tickets, however, because Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) had plenty to do with the respectable gate receipts his company, Top Rank Inc., is tallying from this event.
“Well, we don’t know,” Arum told BoxingScene.com. “Again, when you talk about drawing power, it seems to me that there were more people backing Valdez that came to the fight.”
Stevenson’s next opponent might not be solidified until early in the summer, but his 19th professional fight could take place in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
The 2016 Olympic silver medalist headlined an ESPN telecast from Prudential Center in downtown Newark in July 2019, when he knocked out Mexico’s Alberto Guevara in the third round. Stevenson now would like to return to his hometown to defend his WBC and WBO 130-pound crowns.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.