By Dan Ambrose: Shakur Stevenson is being compared to Floyd Mayeather Jr nonstop this week ahead of his fight this Saturday night against Oscar Valdez.
WBO super featherweight champion Stevenson gets an opportunity to show his Mayweather-esque skills this Saturday night in his unification fight against WBC champion Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) on ESPN at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Is Shakur the next Mayweather?
Stevenson, 24, is compared to a younger version of the former five-division world champion Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs).
We don’t know whether Stevenson will measure up to what Mayweather did during his career, but he’s off to an early start, capturing world titles in two weight classes since turning pro in 2017.
For fans that enjoyed Mayweather’s elusive potshot style of fighting, they’re pleased with the emergence of Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs), and they’re following his career with avid interest, to begin paying to watch him ready fight on PPV once he branches over to that realm.
Boxing fans that enjoy watching fighters mixing it up in wars like Oscar Valdez are annoyed by Stevenson’s play-it-safe, defensively focused style of fighting.
Stevenson can still become super popular and make a lot of money without having a thrilling style.
With the herd mentality that fans have, people will purchase Stevenson’s fights on pay-per-view by getting pulled in by the hypo created by Shakur’s loyal followers, who prefer his hit & not get hit style.
Look at the success of Mayweather during his career. Although Floyd’s fighting style was far less entertaining than the vast majority of fighters in the top tier of the sport, he took advantage of the herd mentality of fans.
The fans that loved watching Mayweather’s potshot style would create hype about his fights, resulting in non-Mayweather fans purchasing his PPV matches.
Part of what attracted non-Mayweather fans to purchase his fights was because they wanted to see him lose, as they felt he was a braggart, who they wanted to see get knocked down a peg.
It’s possible that Shakur, his abrasive, self-promoting personality, could slip into the same villain role that Mayweather had and get fans to purchase his fights based on that.
Shakur will get hit
“I’m picking Shakur because I always pick a solid boxer, a thinking man, over a guy that just randomly throws punches,” said Jeff Mayweather to Fighthype about Saturday’s fight between Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez
Jeff is doing the two-time Olympian Valdez an injustice by devaluing his ability by reducing him to that of a fighter that mindlessly throws shots “randomly.” Valdez is a lot more skilled than Jeff Mayweather is aware of, but it seems that he’s not done much research on him.
Valdez is quite capable of boxing when he wants to, but he chooses to slug with his opponents to entertain the fans. If you look at Valdez’s fight with Scott Quigg in 2018, you can see how the skills he showed off after he suffered a broken jaw early in the contest.
Out of necessity, Valdez boxed Quigg after suffering his jaw in the fifth, and he picked him apart the rest of the way without getting much hit.
“I think it’s still going to be a tough fight, and I think Shakur is really going to have to be on top of his skills that night because he’s [Valdez] going to be bringing it to himand the guy throws a lot of punches,” Jeff continued.
“I lean slightly toward Shakur, but it’s a tough fight, a very tough fight. I do think at some point, he’s [Valdez] going to land because the guy throws a lot of punches,” said Mayweather about the two-time Olympian Oscar Valdez landing against the slippery, defensively focused Shakur at some point in the fight.
Of course, Valdez will land shots in the fight unless Stevenson chooses to stink up the joint on Saturday night to avoid getting hit.
That would be a wrong move for Stevenson to openly run from Valdez because he’s not going to branch over to pay-per-view if he turns off fans. There are already too many non-entertaining fighters in boxing, and fans don’t want to get ripped off, paying $80 to see yet another.
“Shakur is a great fighter, but he’s going to get hit. Everybody gets hit, and if he gets hit with the right one, maybe there will be an upset. Right now, I think he [Stevenson] has enough skills to surpass this fight.
Stevenson = Mayweather clone
“It’s a great comparison for a kid that is just coming up, even though he’s already a world champion, but he’s still very young,” said Jeff in reacting to being told that Shakur is being compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by boxing fans.
“I think he’s only going to get better. A comparison to Floyd is always going to be a part of his journey. Really, that’s what he’s more like, Sweetpea [Pernell Whitaker],” Jeff said about Stevenson being more similar to the late former four-division world champion Pernell Whitaker than Floyd Mayweather Jr.
This writer doesn’t see the comparison being accurate between Stevenson and Mayweather.
Stevenson is slower than Mayweather was in the early years of his career, and he’s not shown the same fire that a young Floyd had when he was knocking out his opponents at super-featherweight.
“I don’t see him doing Sweetpea moves because Sweetpea was a whole different person, and he did all kinds of things where he was very animated.
“I don’t see that part in him [Shakur], but I do see the slickness in him that was kind of like Floyd. Floyd had slickness, but he did slickness without entertainment, without the extras.
“With Sweetpea, you have him almost on the ground, making you miss, and then pulling out that when you look at it, you’re going to know that his signature was on that move. Floyd wasn’t like that. That’s why I think more people compare him to Floyd.
“The most important thing is him having the ability to not get hitand that’s going to help him in his career is not getting hit,” Jeff said of Shakur Stevenson.
“You got to have something. The kid is specialand I think he’s going to do great in his career,” Jeff Mayweather said of Shakur.