Shakur Stevenson overwhelms, stops Oscar Mendoza in two
NEW YORK — Jersey guy Shakur Stevenson continued his momentum-build, rising to 4-0 with a TKO 2 win over fellow featherweight Oscar Mendoza on the Vasyl Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux undercard Saturday night at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
Shakur had an extra incentive to not just win, but look more than solid doing so, as his was the first fight kicking off the Top Rank on ESPN show which would culminate with the clash of gold medal collectors.
Shakur, who impressed with his handspeed and total package at the 2016 Olympics, earning himself a silver bauble, could be on a track that ultimately leads to a collision with Top Rank’s other standout prospect at that weight vicinity, Mick Conlan. The oldest of nine kids and the fighting pride of Newark, Stevenson has said he’s not on the fast track to super-stardom, that he wants to learn the craft and not get out ahead of himself. At 20, probaby not such a horrible POV to hold. It makes sense he signed to Top Rank, where the executives and matchmakers are willing to take the scenic route and wait awhile, to get to a place where the payoff is considerable. His foe on this night, amid high expectations of fans who know how highly Top Rank thinks of Stevenson and how Floyd Mayweather got salty when he signed with TR over his Mayweather Promotions, came in 4-2.
Mendoza had won three straight, though. So there was something to shoot for, being that the guy was riding high and hadn’t been stopped yet.
In the first, Shak looked peppy as hell. He ripped hooks with both hands, smashed to the body, low then high. He was pretty fast and furious right away, no feeling out for him. He threw three lead lefts to the body, did the southpaw, showing his handspeed and reflex edge. He got a decent little round of applause from the wise but not always easily impressed NYC set.
In the second, the NJ lefty was in ripper mode right away. Mendoza was mostly in cover-up mode. Combos were filthy from Shak. His bodywork was hurtful and he almost doubled his foe over. A left to the body was organ-rattling and he was not going to stop, so the ref pulled the plug.
The ending: 1:38 of the second, and will read as a TKO because Sparkle Lee just waved “no mas” for the loser.
My three cents: Stevenson has to be in the top 20 of anyone’s young gun watchlist, maybe higher. A friend messaged me after, asking if I was pissed because Mendoza couldn’t hang. Nah, I said. I think Shak can make good fighters look less so, and I am jazzed to watch his progression.