Two words: Star Quality.
Undefeated Shakur Stevenson showed the world why he is considered one of the best young fighters in the sport today. Taking on what was supposed to be his toughest test to date against WBO 130 pound champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring, Stevenson passed the test with flying colors, dominating every minute of the fight en route to a tenth round stoppage. Shakur was in command from the start, controlling the fight behind a stiff right jab that kept Herring at bay and unable to close the distance. As the bout progressed, Stevenson began to string his combinations together, tattooing Herring to head and body and eventually opening up a cut over the former Marine’s right eye. In round ten the cut had worsened, Herring clearly could not see the punches coming and Stevenson was teeing off, forcing referee Mark Nelson to jump in and save Jamel from further punishment.
“I feel like Jamel Herring is a great fighter,” said Stevenson afterward, who put aside the bad blood from the pre-fight and gave his respects to the fallen champion. When asked about his future at 130, Shakur was quick to call out WBC champion Oscar Valdez.
“There’s only one fight left at the end of the day. It’s the biggest fight at the end of the day. Oscar can’t keep ducking. It’s time for him to fight. There’s nothing else to look forward to. The 130-pound division needs to unify. Let’s get it!” The fight should be easy to make on paper. Both are promoted by Top Rank and both are titlists now at 130, presumably looking to unify. Coming off his unimpressive performance against Robson Conceicao, Valdez would be expected to be a significant underdog against Shakur Stevenson, who looked tremendous in his breakout performance against Jamel Herring.
In the co-feature, unbeaten Puerto Rican prospect Xander Zayas recorded the 11th victory of his pro career, punishing Dan Karpency for four rounds before the corner finally decided to save their charge. Zayas did everything right, seamlessly intertwining a combination of offense and defense and mixing up his attack to the head and body. Zayas, 11-0 (8 KOs), became the first man to stop Karpency, and after the fight remarked on the defensive improvements he made since his last fight against Jose Luis Sanchez.
“In my last fight in September, we noticed that my left hand was a low a little too much, so this camp we kept the elbows and shoulders up and tried to avoid that right hand. We knew he was going to come with those hooks, so we stayed low. Overall, I think I made an improvement.”
Zayas also stated his intent to earn the distinction of 2021’s prospect of the year by closing out the year with a fight on the undercard of Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Richard Commey on December 11th in the Garden.
Grandson of a legend, Nico Ali Walsh, recorded the second victory and knockout of his young career, dropping James Westley twice before Westley’s corner threw in the towel in round three. Ali, who is trained by Javan “Sugar” Hill, was definitely pushed harder than in his pro debut, in which he steamrolled Jordan Weeks in one round, as Westley was able to score with several hard right hand counters. Ali’s fighting instinct and punching power was on display, however, as he used effective ring generalship to create openings for the right hand that ultimately ended the bout.
After the fight, Ali gave tribute to his late grandfather Muhammad Ali, saying “I’m blessed that I’m following the legacy of my grandfather. I thank everyone who loves my grandfather who’s watching me… I love this legacy that I’m continuing.” It remains to be seen whether Nico can create his own legacy as he develops his young pro career.
When asked by The Fight City what his favorite Muhammad Ali fight was, Nico replied “The Rumble in the Jungle.” Not a bad choice.
In the last preliminary of the ESPN card, Evan Holyfield blasted a game Charles Stanford with a picturesque left hook in round two that we’re sure made his father proud. Stanford appeared to be giving Holyfield all he could handle in the first round, backing him up and not allowing him to get set when he wanted to. However, Stanford left himself open in round two, giving Evan Holyfield the hook, line, and sinker to deck his man with a counter left hook to end the fight. Holyfield improves to 8-0 (6 KOs) with the win as he cotinues his long ascent up the 154 pound ladder.
Troy Isley made a statement in his first outing since the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, annihilating an overmatched Nicholi Navarro with a brutal body attack that forced the referee to step in at 2:48 of round one. Isley, who had renowned trainer Al Mitchell in his corner, maintained his poise as he picked apart Navarro with a very accurate offensive showcase en route to the stoppage, becoming the first member of the 2020 US Olympic male team to step inside the squared circle since Tokyo.
In an ugly fight, journeyman Eric Palmer edged previously unbeaten Roddricus Livsey via split decision in a small upset. Lots of clinching and slaps from both men, but Palmer outworked Livsey in spots to secure the victory and improve to 13-14-5 (1 KO).
In a battle of two unbeaten 3-0 prospects, Haven Brady Jr. scored a unanimous decision victory over a very game and competitive Roberto Negrete. Brady got off to a good start in round one, but Negrete began to take it to Brady late in round two and appeared to stun him with some telling right hands in the third. Both closed in a spirited manner in the fourth and final round, and when the bell rang to conclude the entertaining scrap, the fight had the feel of a draw, majority, or split decision. However, in a bit of a surprise, all three judges had Brady winning all four rounds as the Albany, Georgia prospect improved to 4-0 (3 KOs).
In his pro debut, Chicago’s Antoine Cobb scored a highlight reel first round KO of Jerrion Campbell, making quick work of his opponent in just 58 seconds. A right hand put Campbell down for the count, with the referee not bothering to even consider a count. Great way to kick off his professional career.
To open the card, Brooklyn’s own Harley Mederos, a 17-time national amateur champion, recorded his second pro victory with a unanimous shutout of Deljerro Revello. The 21 year old lightweight prospect is one of several top young guns in 2019 BWAA Manager of the Year Keith Connolly’s stable, which includes fellow Brooklynite Edgar Berlanga and unbeaten heavyweight Brandon Moore.
Mederos came out strong, scoring a knockdown midway into round one, but he was overzealous in looking for the KO, relying on wide shots and smothering himself to give Revello the opportunities he needed to hold on and survive through four. Not the most impressive showing for Mederos, but he improves to 2-0.
— Alden Chodash