Shakur Stevenson, former two-weight world champion, has been impressing many with his high boxing IQ and technical prowess. The 25-year-old American is a southpaw who can switch stances and use his speed, footwork, and angles to outbox his opponents. He has a record of 19-0 with 9 knockouts, and he is ranked as the No. 1 contender by the WBC.
He has won titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, and he has beaten notable names like Jamel Herring, Oscar Valdez, Joet Gonzalez, and Robson Conceição.
Stevenson is confident that he can dominate the lightweight division and become a pound-for-pound star. He told the New York Post: “I look at it, I ain’t too mad about it, I really don’t care. Actually, nah, I’m lying. I do care. I care, and since I do care, I’ve got to wake them up. I gotta make them remember who I am. Now at 135 [pounds], I’ve got to open their eyes up a little bit more and make sure they put some real respect on my name.”
Shuichiro Yoshino is a Japanese puncher who has been knocking out his opponents with his power and aggression. The 31-year-old orthodox fighter has a record of 16-0 with 12 knockouts, and he is ranked as the No. 5 contender by the WBC. He is a former Japanese lightweight champion who has defended his title seven times. He has also beaten former world champions Masayuki Ito and Masayoshi Nakatani in his last two fights.
Yoshino is fighting outside of Japan for the first time in his career, but he is not intimidated by Stevenson or his hometown crowd. He told ESPN: “I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. I am not afraid of Stevenson or fighting in his backyard. I have trained hard and prepared well for this fight. I will show everyone that I am the best lightweight in the world.”
So who will win this fight? Stevenson has the edge in speed, skill, defense, and experience. He can use his jab, movement, and counterpunching to keep Yoshino at bay and frustrate him. He can also switch gears and go on the offensive if he sees an opening.
Yoshino has a very slight edge in power, size, and durability. He can use his pressure, volume, and combinations to break down Stevenson and hurt him. He can also take a punch well and recover quickly if he gets caught.
My prediction is that Stevenson will win by unanimous decision after 12 rounds of action. I think he will be able to outsmart and outbox Yoshino for most of the fight, while avoiding any serious damage from Yoshino’s punches. I think Yoshino will have some moments of success, especially in the early rounds when he is fresh and motivated, but he will not be able to land anything decisive or consistent enough to sway the judges.
I think this will be an entertaining and competitive fight that will showcase both fighters’ talents and heart. I think Stevenson will prove that he is ready for bigger challenges in the lightweight division, while Yoshino will prove that he is a worthy contender who can give anyone trouble.
What do you think? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.