If you missed a call from an unknown number this past week, chances are good that it was Top Rank’s matchmaking department inquiring about your availability to fight Shakur Stevenson Saturday night. In the month leading up to the fight, one opponent after another fell through as Stevenson’s team discovered they weren’t either a woman or a defenseless man with his backed turned.
After rummaging through the basement of the featherweight ranks, and presumably, all the female gas station attendants in southern Florida, Stevenson (12-0, 7 KO) and his team decided on the, shall we say “rugged,” Alberto Guevara.
Guevara (27-5, KO) is the type of durable yet non-threatening opponent who can give you rounds, having gone the distance with Emmanuel Rodriguez and Leo Santa Cruz in losing efforts. As far as I know, he doesn’t currently work at a gas station, which made him a surprising choice for Stevenson.
Taking the fight on eight days notice, in what was already simply a showcase fight for Stevenson, not much was expected of Guevara. Even though he was actually expecting to get punched, unlike Stevenson’s typical gas station parking lot opponents, Guevara was brought in to make Stevenson look good. He wouldn’t disappoint.
It would be interesting to see how the 22-year-old Stevenson would fare against an opponent who wasn’t kneeling on the ground and facing away from him, not to mention someone with Guevara’s experience.
As the fighters made their way to the ring at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on an ESPN televised card, those in attendance and viewing at home were treated to the rare sight of Stevenson preparing to fight an opponent indoors and not surrounded by gas pumps.
It’s unclear as to whether Stevenson said anything sexually suggestive to Guevara’s girlfriend before the fight started but as the opening bell rang it made a noise not dissimilar from the one you’d find on the counter of a gas station, which must’ve been of some comfort to him.
Stevenson came out looking to impress, throwing a wide variety of punches, a few of which didn’t even have the prefix “sucker-” affixed to them, which was an interesting change of pace from his typical fighting style.
Stevenson dropped Guevara twice in the second round with impressive flurries. In a shocking display of will power and self-control, he somehow managed not to punch Guevara six times in the back of the head while he was down and was even able to suppress the urge to spit on him as he was slumped on the canvas. This kid is clearly growing up.
The end came at 2:37 of the third round from a three punch Stevenson flurry that Guevara made a comically lackadaisical attempt to rise from at the count of ten. Again Stevenson managed to stifle his desire to repeatedly rabbit punch his helpless, unsuspecting opponent. I mean, the maturity of this kid.
In a post-fight interview, surrounded by Corona girls which he again restrained the urge to stiff-arm in the back of the head, Stevenson said he wanted the big names of the division, calling out Leo Santa Cruz and Josh Warrington specifically. It remains to be seen whether Stevenson will be able to lure a name like Santa Cruz to his home arena of the Kwik Trip parking lot in Miami or if Warrington’s hometown has a petrol filling station big enough for Stevenson’s entire crew, should he decide to go to the UK.
Full disclosure, I watched this fight on my phone with the sound off as my dad drunkenly told me a story about buying a night vision scope for his rifle and that’s about as much attention as anyone should pay to a Shakur Stevenson fight in 2019.
He’s a talented kid with an exciting style but in a sport that offers a multitude of ways to separate yourself from your money, there are far better outlets to do so than shitheads like Stevenson.
There’s no justice in this world and even less in boxing so he’ll continue to get big fights with little to no comeuppance incurred.
It remains to be seen how Stevenson does away from the cozy confines of the gas station parking lot and against men, specifically ones who know they’re in a fight and can punch back. That will be the test for Stevenson. For boxing fans, the test will be giving a shit when he does.
Hopefully, we all fail.
(Photo by Mikey Williams for Top Rank)