Shakur Stevenson said it would be one-sided, and he stayed true to his word, rolling past Namibian knockout artist Jeremiah Nakathila via unanimous decision (120-107, 3x) to win the vacant WBO interim junior lightweight world title Saturday at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs) had the height and reach advantage but little else to trouble Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a former featherweight world champion looking to conquer a second weight division.

Stevenson knocked down Nakathila with a lightning-fast right hook in the fourth round, and the one-way traffic continued into the second half of the fight.

The knockout did not come, and Stevenson had to settle for the one-sided decision. With Nakathila out of the way, he has bigger names in mind.

Stevenson said, “To be honest, I didn’t really like my performance. I felt I could’ve performed a lot better, but it was an awkward fighter. You had an awkward fighter throwing hard punches, and he knows how to grab and get away. He was a real awkward fighter. That’s all.”

“I tried to {get him out of there} a little bit, but I started getting hit with some solid shots. I ain’t really like it, but next time I’m going to work on moving my head a little bit more and step it up a little more.”

“If I had the choice, I’d take Oscar Valdez, but if I had to beat up Jamel {Herring} to get to it, I’ll do that, too.”

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. presented WBO Featherweight Boxing Champion and Newark native Shakur Stevenson with the Key to Essex County during a spirited ceremony on Wednesday, January 8th.

“Shakur Stevenson has dedicated himself to his boxing career, earning accolades at the highest levels – an Olympic Silver Medal and several professional featherweight title belts. Throughout his successful run, he has never forgotten his hometown, reminding boxing fans of his Newark roots by wearing the city’s name on his trunks and headband. His pride in Newark and Essex County, and his tireless work ethic are inspirations to our young residents and demonstrate that through hard work they can achieve anything,” DiVincenzo said.

“When I fight, I think of Newark and all the kids who look up to me. I am trying to become better than I am now; I’m still motivated and I thank you for this award and for coming out to support me today,” Stevenson said.

“You have had an enormous opportunity to show the world what Newark is about and who we are. I encourage you to stay focused because this is a long-term venture. The work ethic that goes into being a champion is extraordinary, so you should feel proud,” NJ State Senator and Deputy Chief of Staff Teresa Ruiz said.

“We are so proud of what you have accomplished, especially how you give back to the community and make yourself accessible to young people,” Freeholder Vice President Wayne Richardson said. “Newark is a fantastic city, but what is even better is the fact that it produces such remarkable people like Shakur,” Freeholder Patricia Sebold said. “We like to highlight residents who have achieved greatness. To see what you have accomplished will inspire all young people to work hard and emulate what you have done,” Freeholder Len Luciano said.

“We are all very proud of you. You are Newark and you have a piece of every ward in your body,” Sheriff Armando Fontoura said.

Along with the Key to Essex County, DiVincenzo presented Mr. Stevenson with a plaque, which states: “Born and raised in the City of Newark, Shakur Stevenson started to box at the age of 5. He was an exceptional youth competitor, with his amateur career pinnacling at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, where he took home a Silver Medal. Now a professional, Shakur has continued to impress. Along with an undefeated record, he’s become the international face of featherweight boxing, earning the IBF Intercontinental, WBC Continental, WBO NABO and, most recently, the WBO title belts. This success has led analysts to compare Shakur to several legendary boxing greats. With all his achievements, he remains connected to and proud of his roots, wearing the name of his hometown on his boxing trunks and visiting schools, community centers and senior programs to inspire others. He is role model for all of us, showing that no matter from where you come, through hard work, you can become the best.”

At just 22 years of age, Stevenson has had a successful career in the boxing ring. He started boxing at the age of 5 and his amateur career culminated with him winning the Silver Medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. He currently has an undefeated record of 13-0 with seven knockouts as a professional and is the featherweight champion for the IBF Intercontinental, WBC Continental, WBO NABO and the WBO. He won the WBO title belt in October 2019.

By Tehsuan Glover /

Photo by Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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