On June 12, live on ESPN, one of boxing’s most talented young fighters will return to the ring for his first bout of the year to potentially capture his 2nd world title in his 16th bout. Impressive stuff to say the least.

Live from the Virgin Hotel, Las Vegas, Shakur Stevenson [15-0, 8 KO’s] will battle Jeremiah Nakathila [21-1, 17 KO’s] for the [interim] world WBO super featherweight title. Both fighters come into the bout off of similar schedules with both fighters entering the ring twice in 2020, this being the first bout of 2021 for each of them. However, that is where the career similarities end.

Newark, New Jersey’s Stevenson turned pro in 2017 and has been perfect in 15 outings so far. He had a Continental Americas title by his 10th bout, beat future world title challenger Christopher Diaz in his 11th bout and was a world champion by his 13th fight. He then took 2 fights at the super featherweight limit in 2020 and now goes for his 2nd world title strap in his 16th bout. In short, this is a very talented fighter who is moving fast, banking wins and scooping up titles along the way.

In Nambia’s Nakathila, we have a fighter who has impressive numbers on paper but there are questions around what he can bring to a fighter as talented as the sharp shooting Stevenson. Nakathila has only fought once out of his home country and was stopped, by then 16-0 Evgeny Chuprakov in Russia. In fairness, it is hard to gauge that bout as one judge had it close, one judge gave every round to Russia’s Chuprakov and one judge had it even. Were they all watching the same bout? While that has been the only loss for Nakathila, it is notable that 2 fights ago he beat a fighter who was 8-6 [who had lost 6 of 8 coming into the bout]. That level of competition doesn’t bode well in preparing for a step up to the likes of Shakur Stevenson.

However, numbers can be deceiving and there may be more to Nakathila than his record might lead one to believe. In looking for some positives here, he does have 17 stoppages in 21 fights and power would be a friend against a talented boxer like Stevenson. If you can keep Shakur somewhat respectful of your power this might help to keep him in more of a defensive posture, allowing Nakathila the opportunity to press the attack.

With all sorts of talented fighters in and around this weight class like Mexico’s Emanuel Navarette, American Jamel Herring, Britain’s Archie Sharp, Mexico’s Oscar Valdez and others, there are some great opportunities for the winner here. And, while experience and talent would lead one to go with Stevenson, don’t try telling that to Nakathila.

In a recent interview Nakathila boldly stated, “I can take on Stevenson anytime and any day, he might be much younger but definitely not more talented and powerful than me.”

There is nothing on paper that would help to substantiate that bold prediction by Nakathila but you have to like what is either confidence or his ability to sell himself. Either way – folks, we have a fight!

Source: Bill Tibbs