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Shakur Stevenson dominates Robson Conceicao in Newark, turns attention to lightweight division

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 23: Robson Conceição (L) and Shakur Stevenson (R) exchange punches during their WBC and WBO junior lightweight championship fight at Prudential Center on September 23, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

NEWARK, N.J. — Shakur Stevenson had plenty of frustration to vent walking into the Prudential Center on Friday night. The two 130-pound title belts, plus The Ring championship, were vacated on the scale the day prior after he missed weight by nearly two pounds, putting a damper on his first fight since becoming a champion in 2019.

He also had to give up part of his purse to his opponent Robson Conceicao to make sure the ESPN-televised fight still happened.

Stevenson (19-0, 9 knockouts) took it all out on Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) on Friday night, pummeling the 2016 Olympic gold medalist to a dominant unanimous decision win. All three judges scored the bout in favor Stevenson, the 2016 Olympic bantamweight silver medalist, by the scores of 117-109 on two cards and 118-108 on the third.

“I had a long week. I killed myself to make weight. All I want to do is come in here and perform. I did everything I could to do that,” said the 25-year-old Stevenson, who was fighting in his hometown for the first time since 2019.

Only Conceicao was eligible to win the titles since he made weight, but the belts will now be vacant due to the Stevenson win. Conceicao, 33, of Santiago Brazil, has now lost both of his world title challenges, having dropped a decision a year ago to then-WBC junior lightweight titleholder Oscar Valdez.

After a quiet feeling out round, Stevenson took over in round two, cutting Conceicao in half with left hands to the body which opened up right hooks upstairs. Stevenson’s foot movement kept him away from Conceicao’s own shots, and changed the distance quick enough to open up counter punches.

Conceicao began to get desperate in round three, selling out to land his own punches to avoid being run out of the Prudential Center. Conceicao lobbied referee David Fields to draw a low blow caution, which earned him a brief respite in the round.

Stevenson’s investment in the body was looking more like a cash-out as he hurt Conceicao early on in the fourth with a slicing left to the midsection, and then dropped him to a knee at the end of the round with a similar shot for a knockdown.

The punishment became worse and worse as the rounds progressed, as Stevenson’s body work widened the gap in hand speed and left Conceicao a sitting duck for heavy power punches to the head. Conceicao never stopped trying, and landed his best punch of the fight in the eighth, a right hand that snuck past the shoulder of Stevenson. Stevenson completed about Conceicao’s pushing, which was the extent that the underdog made Stevenson uncomfortable.

“I’m just a dominating individual. With me versus him, the ref, I did everything I could to try and beat [Conceicao] up as much as I could. He held me the whole night, but I did everything I could,” said Stevenson.

Stevenson barely lost a round, but he did lose a point in the ninth for tossing Conceicao to the canvas as he held on to Stevenson’s neck. Conceicao’s roughhousing began to draw annoyed smirks from Stevenson, who tossed Conceicao to the canvas again in the tenth round. Stevenson focused most of his heavy artillery upstairs in the later rounds, which is likely the biggest reason Conceicao was able to last the distance.

Stevenson’s weight issues didn’t hurt his popularity among the fans in Newark. The local star received a rousing greeting from the crowd from the reported 10,107 fans in attendance, breaking Prudential Center’s previous record for attendance at a boxing event which was set by the Tomasz Adamek vs. Jason Estrada bout in 2010.

With his business at 130 pounds finished, Stevenson now turns his attention to a 135 pound division where his promoter Top Rank is heavily invested. The undisputed/RING champion Devin Haney entered into a co-promotional agreement prior to defeating George Kambosos Jr. earlier this year to lift the titles. Haney will face Kambosos for a second time on October 15.

Top Rank also promotes former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is rated the no. 2 contender by The Ring behind Kambosos.

At 135 pounds, Stevenson has his best shot to fully transition from rising star to transcendent champion. 

“We gotta fight the champ. Me and Devin [Haney], we could lock in. After he fights Kambosos, let’s get it on,” said Stevenson.


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