Thursday, July 18, 2024  |


Shuichiro Yoshino looks forward to testing Shakur Stevenson mentally and physically

Shuichiro Yoshino - Photo by Naoki Fukuda
Fighters Network

On Saturday, power-punching Shuichiro Yoshino will take a big step up in class when he faces rising superstar Shakur Stevenson at the Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey.

Yoshino, who is the former Japanese and OPBF lightweight titlist, was only too happy to accept the opportunity to face Stevenson in a WBC 135-pound eliminator.

“I am very excited to be competing against such a great boxer [as] Stevenson,” Yoshino (16-0, 12 knockouts) told The Ring through his handler Takashi Misako. “[He is an] Olympic [silver] medalist, undefeated two-division world champion.

“I think his speed is top grade too. [I want to test him] mentally and [I don’t think he has good] power.”

The 31-year-old says he won’t be overawed by stepping into his more favored rival’s backyard.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I am training hard to beat Stevenson,” he said boldly. “Even in Shakur’s hometown, I will still do my own boxing.”

Yoshino, who is a 15/2 (+750) betting underdog, feels his most recent result shows he’s not to be underestimated.

“I’m confident because I beat world-famous [Masayoshi] Nakatani,” he said pointing to sixth-round stoppage over his countryman, who had previously gone the 12-round distance with Teofimo Lopez and took Vasiliy Lomachenko nine-rounds. “I’m happy that I defeated him early, but I was addicted to the strategy and was able to defeat him.”

Yoshino, who studied agriculture at college and now works in construction, feels there is more to him that brute strength and that was in evidence when he dominated former WBO 130-pound titlist Masayuki Ito (TD 11) last spring.

“It’s not just my power alone,” he said. “I was able to beat them because of everyone and the team that supported me. I wanted to win and see my family happy, so I was motivated to train and it helped me.”

Misako is quietly confident his charge can upset the hugely talented American.

“It’s an honor to have Yoshino fight the great two-division world champion in his hometown of Newark,” said Misako. “Yoshino had a great win in Japan [against Nakatani] and became the best lightweight in Japan and Asia. I am confident that we will show our best performance in the United States this time and win.”

Yoshino is strong and will try to push Stevenson back and make him fight. However, it is difficult to see the Japanese fighter enjoying sustained spells of success against the supremely gifted America. Stevenson will likely use his speed and extensive skill set to win a wide 12-round unanimous decision.

Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) was a standout amateur, who claimed silver at the 2016 Olympics. Stevenson shut down the previously unbeaten Joet Gonzalez (UD 12) to claim the vacant WBO featherweight title. He immediately moved up to 130 pounds and was awarded The Ring Performance of the Year for dominating and stopping WBO titlist Jamel Herring (TKO 10). The 25-year-old southpaw added The Ring and WBC titles by outclassing the previously unbeaten Oscar Valdez (UD 12) and, most recently, Robson Conceicao (UD 12). However, he missed weight against Conceicao prompting a move up to lightweight.

Stevenson-Yoshino, plus supporting undercard, will be broadcast on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET/ 7 p.m. PT.</em

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected].