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9th June 2020
By: Michael Frank
Boxing is Back – Shakur Stevenson vs Felix Caraballo Preview
After a 3 month hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Top Rank and Shakur Stevenson will welcome back boxing on Tuesday night, June 9th. ESPN will broadcast the card that is headlined by a non-title fight between Shakur Stevenson and Felix Caraballo at 7pm EST/4 pm PST. The undefeated Stevenson will be making his super featherweight debut. The MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas has the privilege of staging the first fight in months. The event will be held behind closed doors with no fans, but still a massive step in the right direction. Boxing is back!
22-year-old Stevenson is the WBO featherweight champ and has started his career 13-0 with 7 KO’s. The Newark native has a strong amateur resume and the benefit of working with Andre Ward and Terrence Crawford. Caraballo is a 26-year-old Puerto Rico native and comes in at 13-1-2 as a professional. The fight will be Caraballo’s first outside of Puerto Rico.
The undercard includes 4 other fights, with two intriguing heavyweight matchups. Jared Anderson, who was Tyson Fury’s sparring partner leading up to the Deontay Wilder fight, will face off against Johnie Langston. Lightweight champ Mikaela Mayer was scheduled to face Helen Joseph, but a positive COVID-19 test has canceled the fight. Bob Arum and Top Rank have taken all the necessary precautions to make the night as safe as possible.
The southpaw Stevenson currently lives in Virginia and trains at the Alexandria Boxing Club. He won the bantamweight silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, representing the United States. He then signed with Top Rank in 2017 and is co-managed by his main influencer Andre Ward. Willie Moses, his grandfather, has been his cornerman his entire career.
He made his professional debut against Edgar Brito on April 22, 2017. He then rattled off 12 more decisive victories, including 4 wins in 2019 alone. He beat Jessie Cris Rosales with a 4th round TKO to win the vacant IBF Inter-Continental and WBC Continental Americas featherweight titles on January 18th. His last fight, before COVID-19 shut down the sports world, was against the then-undefeated Joet Gonzalez. Stevenson won via a 12-round unanimous decision to claim the vacant WBO featherweight title.
He has been compared to Floyd Mayweather Jr. for his speed, movement, and composure. Stevenson uses a body-first approach and is not known for being a head hunter. His punch and dodge combinations are something special, and his maturity at his young age has been impressive. Good friend and sparring partner Terrence Crawford has rubbed off on Shakur in the best way possible. The one concern that gets brought up is his punching power. Look for Stevenson to respond to the critics with an early-round TKO victory. He should dominate the less experienced Caraballo, showcasing his speed and flashy style.
Felix Caraballo is a featherweight from Mayaquez, Puerto Rico, and isn’t a household name in the States. He doesn’t have the experience or speed that Stevenson has, but look for him to give his all. Expect high energy from “La Sombra” out of the gates, looking to land a big shot in the first few rounds. He’s fighting to change his life and the direction of his career.
The night of boxing we’ve waited 3 months for will be unconventional with no fans. The event has already run into multiple obstacles along the way. In addition to the Mayer-Joseph fight being canceled, Stevenson’s head trainer, Kay Korma has been forced to leave camp because of his contact with Mayer, who tested positive for COVID-19. Korma was expected to be in the corner for Stevenson, Mayer, and Jared Anderson. On Monday, Caraballo had to shed half a pound in one hour in order to make weight.
The lead-up to the fight hasn’t been pretty, but let’s hope Tuesday night will be action-packed and give us a hint of boxing normalcy.
Prediction: Stevenson TKO victory within the first 5 rounds.
Super featherweight (130 lbs):
Shakur Stevenson vs Felix Caraballo
Super featherweight (130 lbs) – CANCELLED:
Mikaela Mayer vs Helen Joseph
Heavyweight (200+ lbs):
Jared Anderson vs Johnnie Langston
Heavyweight (200+ lbs):
Guido Vianello vs Don Haynesworth
Featherweight (126 lbs):
Robeisy Ramirez vs Yeuri Andujar
Middleweight (160 lbs):
Quatavious Cash vs Calvin Metcalf