Andre Ward: Next move is his, Stevenson is the boss
While the fighting conditions were greatly altered, WBO world featherweight champion “Fearless” Shakur Stevenson (14-0, 8 KO’s) enjoyed a sensational performance in the main event of Top Rank’s June 9 telecast. The event was the first mainstream boxing broadcast aired since national pandemic directives put all sports on indefinite pause.
For the fight, Stevenson took on the challenge of Felix “La Sombra” Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KO’s). The high profile bout was the first time that Caraballo competed professionally outside of his native Puerto Rico. Despite taking the fight straight to Stevenson, it was near immediately evident that there was a tremendous gap in the two athlete’s skill level.
Prior to the fight, Stevenson was convinced that he had all the tools needed to stop Caraballo within the regulation. Once in the ring, Fearless masterfully controlled the distance, maintained a methodical pace and displayed a high in-ring IQ. However, what was probably the most impressive was Stevenson’s brutal and withering body attack.
It was a single piercing left hook that halted the match in the sixth round. In the aftermath of his dominant victory, one of Stevenson’s managers, and former two-division world champion, Andre “SOG” Ward (32-0, 16 KO’s) believes that Fearless has everything he needs to be a legend in the sport. Naturally, Ward was impressed with his young charge’s performance and gave particular kudos to the body attack when speaking with Fight Hype.
“Man, he did everything that he was supposed to do! I mean Caraballo was tough, he probably put up a tougher fight than people thought he would… I think he has the skill to be an all-time great as he stays focused, but that doesn’t mean you rush that.”
“You take your time with that, you let that develop at the right time. And he did what he was supposed to do! He boxed tonight, he dealt with early pressure, never panicked, stayed patient. This was the most deliberate and vicious body attack I’ve seen him put on his whole career!”
YOUNG GUN GOT OPTIONS
With this one-sided victory in the books, the question now becomes: what will Stevenson do next? For the June 9 bout, both he and Caraballo moved up from their normal featherweight division, but will Stevenson move back down, where he has the WBO featherweight title, or remain at 130?
The only featherweight bout that Fearless has consistently pursued with all his might is with IBF world featherweight champion Josh “The Leeds Warrior” Warrington (30-0, 7 KO’s). Unfortunately, this prizefight doesn’t look any closer to being finalized now than it did a year ago.
While it would be fun to get an inside lead on what Stevenson may do next, Ward remained fairly tight-lipped on the matter. So it seems we’ll all just have to wait and see what’s next directly from the New Jersey native’s mouth.
“He’s the boss, he’ll tell us what he wants to do. We’ll give our suggestions, we being James Prince, Josh Dugan, Top Rank. We’ll put our heads together, but ultimately he’s got to make the decision.”
“He knows how his body felt, he looked good to me tonight, he looked very sturdy under his legs. He looked physically strong, I liked the way that he looked at 130, but he still holds a belt at 126 so he’s got options!”
By: Bakari Simpson