Good, bad, worse: Stevenson dazzles, Joyce aces test, Mayweather can still bring it

A critical look at the past week in boxing

GOOD

Shakur Stevenson might be the best pure boxer in the world.

I say that mostly with defense in mind, although he also has elite offensive skills. Robson Conceicao landed only 60 punches (according to CompuBox) during Stevenson’s unanimous decision victory Friday in Newark, New Jersey.

That’s only five punches per round. Just as striking, the Brazilian, a 2016 Olympic gold medalist, connected on only 12% of his total punches thrown. That’s Floyd Mayweather territory.

In other words, it’s next to impossible to hit this guy, which is going to make him difficult to beat. That goes for the best fighters at 135 pounds, at which Stevenson will be fighting going forward after losing his 130-pound titles on the scale Friday.

Devin Haney? Vasiliy Lomachenko? Gervonta Davis (if he fights at lightweight again)? I’m not sure I’d pick any of them to beat Stevenson, although those are all great fights.

What about Stevenson’s relative lack of punching power?

I think that might be a problem in terms of marketing. He’ll be more popular if he can find ways to stop opponents, particularly those who are clearly overmatched, like Conceicao. Fans love knockouts.

I doubt his limited power will hold him back in terms of boxing, though. Mayweather wasn’t a big puncher, although he did stop many foes in the first half of his career. The same with Haney and Lomachenko.

Indeed, Stevenson’s overall skill set supersedes any single liability, if that’s what it is. His combination of ability, anticipation, speed and reflexes is scary.

And he’s only 25. He’s probably not even at his peak. Enjoy the ride.

 

BAD

The only reason this item is classified as “bad” is that I wouldn’t fork over $29.99 to watch an old, retired fighter work out.

That’s what thousands did yesterday (Sunday in Japan), when Mayweather, 45, and Japanese mixed martial artist Mikuru Asakura faced off in a scheduled three-round pay-per-view exhibition in Saitama, Japan.

I get why some fans would want to see Mayweather in action, even in a meaningless exhibition. I liken it to baseball old-timers games, in which it can be fun to see your retired favorites back on the playing field.

And Mayweather provides a bonus: He can still fight at a fairly high level.

I don’t think he can compete with the top 147-pounders, guys like Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. Neither does Mayweather, who has made it clear that he doesn’t want to jeopardize his health in these exhibitions.

However, he can still dominate non-boxers like Asakura, who was quickly overwhelmed and ultimately knocked out in two rounds because he has only rudimentary boxing skills. Mayweather could beat a guy like that in his sleep.

One more thing: Just because I’m not interested in such events as a fan doesn’t mean I have a problem with Mayweather — or anyone else — taking part in them.

I’m a capitalist. He has a product that a lot of people are interested in buying. As long as that’s the case and Mayweather can perform at a reasonably high level, he’ll probably continue to do so. I would do the same thing.

He has already talked about a second fight with Conor McGregor or a first one with YouTuber Jake Paul. And Manny Pacquiao was an invited guest yesterday in Saitama, raising speculation that the former rivals might meet in what would surely be a lucrative exhibition.

Bottom line: Mayweather isn’t going anywhere just yet.

 

WORSE

Will the anticipated showdown between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. actually happen?  Sarah Stier / USA TODAY Sports

The Crawford-Spence and Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fights should’ve been announced by now.

I know, I know. These things take time. All parties involved must agree on to every single detail before contracts can be signed, which usually takes a lot of diligent work. And, yes, this is how it has always gone in boxing.

It’s still frustrating.

The Crawford-Spence fight is arguably the best possible matchup in boxing, featuring two unbeaten welterweights in the Top 5 pound for pound. It’s comparable to Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad, maybe better from a boxing standpoint.

That’s why the reports that indicated Crawford and Spence had agreed to terms raised the hopes of fans to such a high degree.

Now, with nothing but silence and no final deal in place, people are starting to wonder whether talks are breaking down. That would be heartbreaking.

Fury-Joshua is a matchup no one expected, at least not now. After all, Joshua has lost back-to-back fights to Oleksandr Usyk, who most of us thought would face Fury for the undisputed heavyweight championship.

The fact is there is a demand for Fury-Joshua, a matchup that has been brewing for years. It could be the biggest fight in the history of British boxing, Joshua losses or no Joshua losses. It’s a fun matchup.

Fury and Joshua have agreed to a 60-40 split of the revenue in Fury’s favor. An obstacle appears to be TV/streaming platforms: Fury is aligned with BT Sports, Joshua with DAZN.

Executives from those companies are scheduled to meet on Monday, which is a good sign. They definitely won’t reach a deal if they don’t talk.

Still, Fury is frustrated because talks have dragged on. He gave the Joshua side a deadline of Monday to get a deal done, which Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn said isn’t realistic.

The fans want these fights. There is a lot of money on the table for everyone involved in both of them. Make them happen.

 

RABBIT PUNCHES

Joe Joyce (15-0, 14 KOs) isn’t the quickest or most athletic heavyweight. And that doesn’t matter much, as he demonstrated during his knockout victory over former titleholder Joseph Parker (30-3, 21 KOs) on Saturday in England. Joyce is physically imposing at 6-foot-6, around 270 pounds, is well conditioned and has a great chin. He also is a solid, disciplined boxer who knows how to use his advantages against his opponents. He fought patiently behind his jab at long distance and followed with heavy blows that gradually wore down Parker before he finished off he Kiwi with an epic left hook in the 11th round. It was a strong performance. Can Joyce beat the next level heavyweights, Fury, Usyk, Deontay Wilder and Joshua? I don’t know. I do believe the 37-year-old Londoner has the size, strength, punching power, durability and, yes, skill to compete with anyone. … Amanda Serrano (43-2-1, 30 KOs) didn’t have much trouble with Sarah Mahfoud (11-1, 3 KOs) of Denmark on the Joyce-Parker card, winning a unanimous decision to unify three featherweight titles. One thing surprised me: Serrano seemed to fade down the stretch, which shouldn’t happen over 10 2-minute rounds. Maybe she was too busy earlier in the fight. Maybe there was a factor we don’t know about. Overall, however, she turned in another good performance. … Stevenson’s inability to make weight for his fight against Conceicao was unprofessional. He admitted it. That said, I’ll take his word that he gave a genuine effort to honor the contract he signed. The goal now should be to never let happen again. One time is a mistake; two times is a pattern.

Related

Floyd Mayweather, 45 years young, knocks out MMA star Mikuru Asakura

Joe Joyce dominates, stops Joseph Parker with brutal left hook in 11th round

Amanda Serrano easily outpoints Sarah Mahfoud to unify three 126-pound titles

Shakur Stevenson dominates Robson Conceicao in 130-pound finale

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie