NEWARK, New Jersey – Shakur Stevenson doesn’t intend to afford Robson Conceicao seconds, let alone rounds, to gain confidence when they square off in a little less than two months.
Stevenson revealed before a press conference Monday in his hometown that he wants to discourage Conceicao quickly in a 12-round, 130-pound championship match ESPN will televise September 23 from Prudential Center, the home arena of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. An aggressive strategy could enable Newark’s Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) to stop Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs) within six rounds, as lightweight prospect Keyshawn Davis predicted during a press conference at Prudential Center to promote Stevenson’s first fight in Newark as a world champion.
“I’m expecting him to try to box and be technical,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “But he gonna have moments when he try to get out of line. I’m going in there to beat him up. I’m not about to play around with him. I feel if you wait with them Olympic-style fighters, them boxers, you give them confidence and you allow them to get into the fight.
“I think that’s where [Oscar] Valdez made a mistake. He didn’t put the pressure on [Conceicao] and didn’t try to start beating him up until rounds six, seven. I think that’s where he went wrong. With me, from round two and three, you’ll see a lot of me trying to beat him up. I wanna get him out of there.”
Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs), whom Stevenson dominated throughout their 12-round title unification fight April 30, conquered Conceicao by unanimous decision in what was a more difficult fight than anticipated for the former WBC super featherweight champion last September 10 at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.
Judge Stephen Blea (117-110) scored nine rounds for Valdez, though the scorecards of judges Omar Mintun (115-112) and Chris Tellez (115-112) seemed more reflective of the competitive nature of their 12-round title fight. Mintun and Tellez scored five rounds apiece for Conceicao, from whom referee Tony Zaino deducted a point in the ninth round for hitting Valdez behind his head.
CompuBox credited Conceicao, however, for landing 58 more punches overall than Valdez (141-of-576 to 83-of-390).
“A lot of people feel like Conceicao won, but I got a weird opinion about it just because of the fact he let off the gas,” Stevenson said. “I feel like in round six he just started moving extra and showboating. And while he was doing that, he wasn’t scoring. He wasn’t landing no punches, Valdez was looking like the aggressor and Valdez was putting the power on him at that time. Maybe [Conceicao] got tired. I don’t know. I don’t know what it was, but he let off the gas.”
Those that gave Valdez credit for winning criticized Conceicao for fading in the later rounds.
“I think he felt like was winning,” said Stevenson, who last boxed at Prudential Center in July 2019. “That’s the thing with them amateur fighters – and I ain’t saying he’s an amateur, but his experience comes more so from the Olympic gold medal and all that stuff – but that’s the thing with them – they’re three-round fighters. Once they’re up, they wanna move around and act like they won. But when I be doing stuff like that, when I move around, it’s the 12th round. We won already. Like, we leavin’, we goin’ home and I won 11 rounds straight.”
Caesars Sportsbook lists Stevenson as a 20-1 favorite to beat Brazil’s Conceicao, a gold medalist at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro who has lost only to Valdez in the professional ranks. The 25-year-old Stevenson, a two-division champion who won an Olympic silver medal in 2016, will make the first defense of the WBC crown he took from Valdez almost three months ago at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and the second defense of the WBO belt he won when he stopped Jamel Herring (23-4, 11 KOs) in the 10th round last October 23 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.