Shakur Stevenson showcased his skills and beat Felix Caraballo in six rounds on Tuesday night in Las Vegas as US boxing made its comeback.
The talented WBO featherweight champion made a comfortable debut in the division above at the MGM Grand Conference Center Grand Ballroom, a behind-closed-door venue, in the first event promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank since lockdown began.
“What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson,” Arum said. “He keeps getting better and, rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar.”
The fight was nearly over in the first round – Stevenson landed a body shot which forced Caraballo, a Puerto Rican who had never previously boxed outside of his home country, onto one knee.
Caraballo survived the early knock-down but Stevenson continued peppering him.null
Towards the end of the fifth, Stevenson landed a powerful left hand which hurt Caraballo.
Two consecutive punches to the body by Stevenson in the sixth round folded Caraballo in agony, and the referee called a halt.
“He hit me with a couple shots, more than I’m used to,” Stevenson said. “A couple jabs here and there. He was a tough guy, but I felt great in there after my training camp in Houston.”
The 22-year-old Olympic silver medalist Stevenson had previously been feted as “the southpaw Floyd Mayweather” by his promoter Arum who added: “He will be one of the major, major stars in boxing in the years ahead”.
He extended his pro record to 14-0 on Tuesday night then wore a T-shirt supporting the Black Lives Matter movement afterwards.
But his successful debut at super-featherweight is a complication in any potential unification fight with Britain’s Josh Warrington, the IBF featherweight champion.
Stevenson’s manager Andre Ward previously said about facing the undefeated Warrington: “[Stevenson] won’t just beat you, he can embarrass you. No fighter wants to be embarrassed. They see that in Shakur. I respect his desire to go [to the UK], I support his desire.”
Stevenson has previously explained his desire to win world titles in four divisions.