By W.G. RAMIREZ
LAS VEGAS (AP) — WBO champion Shakur Stevenson handed Oscar Valdez the first loss of his career Saturday night in a junior lightweight championship bout.
What some thought could be a fight of the year candidate turned into a one-sided boxing clinic.
Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) won by unanimous decision and took Valdez’s WBC belt with the victory.
Stevenson displayed faster hands, exquisite footwork, and overall better boxing skills than Valdez. Stevenson outpunched his opponent 189-110 and landed 53% of his power punches.
Judge Tim Cheatham had the fight scored 117-110, while Dave Moretti and David Sutherland had it 118-109.
“This victory means everything,” said Stevenson, who is looking to win every belt at 130 pounds and unify the division. “I told ya’ll what I was going to do. I said I’m gonna beat Valdez, Canelo (Alvarez), and Eddy Reynoso, so that was my game plan. Beat the whole team and I feel good about it. Much respect to them, but that was my game plan.
“I deserve to be a superstar, so that’s what I gotta do.”
Stevenson looked every bit a superstar when he took advantage of Valdez’s huge gamble in the sixth round. Valdez misfired an overhand left that left him in a vulnerable position. Stevenson countered quickly by dropping Valdez with a quick left shot to the temple and seized control of the bout.
Valdez (30-1) wasn’t the same after that round, and seemingly lost the poise he started with. Stevenson, conversely, was in control the rest of the way, much to the dismay of the heavily pro-Valdez crowd inside a jam-packed MGM Grand Garden with an announced gathering of 10,102.
“He has great boxing skills, he was just the better fighter this night,” Valdez said. “He did what he had to do to win the fight. He’s a great fighter. His speed is there. Power is there. He was just the better fighter tonight. Overall, a great fighter.”
When ringside reporter Bernardo Osuna asked Stevenson what was next on his plate, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, rapper Young Lyric. She said yes.
On the main undercard, Nico Ali Walsh (5-0, 4 KOs), the grandson of Muhammad Ali, needed only 2 minutes, 50 seconds to knock out Alejandro Ibarra (7-2) in what was supposed to be a four-round middleweight special attraction. After standing toe-to-toe for much of the round, and continually landing his right hook to Ibarra’s head, Ali Walsh set up his outmatched opponent. After feinting with his right hand to open things up, Ali Walsh landed a quick left and a devastating right flush on Ibarra’s face for his fourth career knockout.
“This is just a testament to all the work I put in,” Ali Walsh said. “This is bigger than boxing. This is for my family. I’m bringing my grandpa back to life, and that’s why mom gets so emotional because she’s seeing her dad again and hearing her dad’s name to me.”
U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (5-0, 4 KOs) dictated the tempo in what went from an eight-round lightweight bout against Esteban Sanchez (18-2), to a one-sided boxing clinic. After a relatively rudimentary three rounds, during which Sanchez landed his only significant punch of the fight, Davis began a dominating assault in the fourth round.
After enjoying his most dominating round in the fifth, pummeling Sanchez into the ropes early in the round, and landing several crushing blows to end it, Davis, who landed 57% of his power punches, finished things in the sixth round when the bout was stopped at the 2:44 mark.
In other action, Raymond Muratalla (14-0, 12 KOs) knocked out Jeremy Hill at the 2:27 mark of the third round in their lightweight bout.
Eighteen-year-old phenom Abdullah Mason improved to 2-0 (2 KOs) with a first-round TKO of Luciano Ramon (1-3) 2:32 into the fight.
Junior lightweight contender Andres Cortes kept his mark unblemished, improving to 17-0 (10 KOs) with a sixth-round TKO of Alexis del Bosque (18-6-1).
And, U.S. Olympian Troy Isley (5-0, 3 KOs) stopped Anthony Hannah (3-3) at the 2:32 mark of the second round with a TKO.
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