On paper, it was a match between two of the best young fighters in the sport, both unbeaten, both impressive and both hungry to claim a world title.
In practice, it was a one-sided mismatch. Shakur Stevenson put all the family drama behind him and waltzed to an easy victory over Joet Gonzalez, his girlfriend’s older brother, to claim the WBO featherweight title Saturday in Reno.
Stevenson won 11 of the 12 rounds on all three judges scorecards, and barely was in any trouble in the fight. The only round he lost was the seventh, when he seemed to take the round off to rest.
Other than that, he showed why he was one of the most sought-after fighters coming out of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
His defense was so good that he held Gonzalez to just an 11-percent connect rate according to CompuBox and didn’t absorb one fully clean punch. The shots that Gonzalez did land were at least partially blocked or were absorbed as Stevenson was backing up.
He has the kind of defensive instincts that Floyd Mayweather showed during his legendary career, but Stevenson didn’t have the offense a young Mayweather had. Stevenson relied mostly on his jab and his defense, keeping Gonzalez at bay and unable to get his punches off.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Stevenson, now 13-0 and at 22 the sport’s second-youngest champion. “I came here to Reno close to his hometown and I wiped him out. It’s an amazing feeling being that I grinded for this my whole life.”
The selling point of the bout was the personal animosity that existed between Stevneson and the Gonzalez family. Stevenson is dating Gonzalez’ younger sister, Jajaira, and neither Gonzalez nor his father Jose approve.
Jose Gonzalez doesn’t speak to his daughter, who texts him every day, because of her relationship with Stevenson.
“It doesn’t go away just like that,” Joet Gonzalez told ESPN’s Mark Kriegel in the locker room following the fight. “Only time will tell [if the feud is over] but he has to show us respect.”
Stevenson, who asked the Gonzalezes to speak to Jajaira following the win, praised Joet as a “tough [expletive], I ain’t going to lie. He’s tough as hell.”
Stevenson, though, is on a different level not only from Gonzalez but from most boxers in the world. Few have his sense of timing and defense, his physical skills and his understanding of distance.
He has the potential to go a long way in the sport. After the bout, he called out Josh Warrington, the unbeaten IBF champion.
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