Shakur Stevenson Becomes Unified Champion With Easy Win Over Oscar Valdez!
Tensions were high inside the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas as WBO junior lightweight champ Shakur Stevenson (18-0, 9KOs) took on WBC champ Oscar Valdez (31-1, 23KOs) in a 130-pound unification showdown. Stevenson previously reigned as WBO champ in the featherweight division and had targeted a fight with Valdez for years. In his last outing, Stevenson TKO’d Jamel Herring in ten rounds to capture the WBO junior lightweight strap in October 2021. With a reputation as one of the most skilled boxers in the sport, the confident 24-year-old came in intent on making a statement.
He faced a Valdez who had plenty of motivation in his own right. The 31-year-old also previously was a WBO champion at featherweight, where he established himself as a hard-hitter and a blood and guts warrior. Deciding to move up to 130, Valdez knocked out Miguel Berchelt in ten to win the WBC crown in February 2021. But in his first title defense, he struggled to a controversial win over Robson Conceicao in September 2021.
Stevenson, who’s viewed as a defensive counterpuncher, stayed true to that in the opening round against Valdez. The Newark, New Jersey native was effective in throwing his right jab and straight left hand. For Valdez, he showed a lack of discipline as he leaped with wide-swinging punches. Round two saw much more activity by Valdez, with a small amount of success as he was able to land some nice left hooks to the body. Stevenson controlled the round with his jab and footwork.
Round three was much better for Valdez. He was able to continue his body punching success while also unloading a multitude of straight right hands into the face of Stevenson. Round six would be a major turning point for both fighters. Halfway through the fight, it was Stevenson who was in control of the fight. A right hand from him would put Valdez down along the ropes.
The second half of the fight resembled the first half. Stevenson was simply too much for Valdez, who was swollen and red in the face from the punishment he received over the course of twelve rounds. Outside of sporadic success with body shots and right hands to the head, Valdez was simply outclassed. Overall, Stevenson showed why he’s a future pound for pound fighter in the sport. With his defense, counter-punching ability, technique, and the evolving offensive game, he’s going to be a nightmare for a lot of fighters moving forward.
After twelve dominating rounds, Stevenson would be announced as the winner via a unanimous decision. The scorecards were 117-110 and 118-109 (x2). With the win, he’s now the unified WBO and WBC 130-pound champion. It’ll be interesting to see how Valdez regroups after the first loss of his career.
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By: Jerrell Fletcher