Boxing Star Shakur Stevenson Picks Up His First Title At Junior Lightweight

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 12: Shakur Stevenson (R) punches Jeremiah Nakathila during their WBO junior lightweight interim title fight at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on June 12, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Stevenson won the vacant title by unanimous decision. Foto: Steve Marcus/Getty Images

As the 2021 U.S. Olympic Boxing Team heads to Tokyo, Japan, it is nice to look back at the stars that participated in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. On the women's side, Claressa Shields brought home her second consecutive gold medal. Meanwhile, Nico Hernández brought home a bronze medal in the men's light flyweight division. Rounding out the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team's success, Shakur Stevenson earned a silver medal in the men's bantamweight division.

It has been five years since Stevenson, Hernández and Shields earned their medals in Brazil. Shields has earned titles in three divisions and launched a professional career in mixed martial arts. Hernández has won six professional boxing matches and launched a career in the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships. Stevenson has also had a successful career since leaving Brazile. He won his first boxing world title in 2019 at featherweight and this past weekend, he sought his second world title at junior lightweight.

On June 12, Stevenson did just about everything but knockout Jeremiah Nakathila in a 12-round bout for the vacant interim WBO junior lightweight title. Despite dominating every round of the fight, the New Jersey native feels that he could have done more and possibly earned a stoppage.

"To be honest, I didn't really like my performance," Stevenson said after the fight.

"I felt I could've performed a lot better. You had an awkward fighter throwing hard punches, and he knows how to grab and getaway. He was a real awkward fighter."

With the Nakathila fight in the rearview mirror, Stevenson is now looking to challenge WBC Junior Lightweight Champion Oscar Valdez.

"Valdez and me is the biggest fight out there at 130. He's a young, hungry lion, undefeated, never lost before. I'm a young, hungry lion, also undefeated, never lost before. He's in his prime," Stevenson said about a potential fight.

"I'm pushing up on my prime. I feel like that has to be next. It's been a long time coming. What are we waiting for? We are both with Top Rank. It shouldn't be a hard fight to make."

Unfortunately, it does not appear that Stevenson will get his wish. Valdez is scheduled to make a voluntary title defense against Robson Conceicao in Arizona this September. As a result, boxing promoter Bob Arum has indicated that Stevenson will fight WBO Junior Lightweight Champion Jamel Herring at Madison Square Garden this winter. The winner of the Herring-Stevenson fight is expected to challenge Oscar Valdez in 2022.

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