Shakur Stevenson routs Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision; 130-pound titles stay vacant

Shakur Stevenson lost his two 130-pound titles on the scales, but he still rode to a unanimous decision victory over Robson Conceicao in front of an announced crowd of 10,107 in Newark, New Jersey on Friday.

Two judges scored the fight 117-109, while the third judge had 118-108 for Stevenson, who flattened Conceicao with a left hand to the sternum, with a second left in Round 4.

“I killed myself to lose weight,” said Stevenson, ESPN’s No. 9 pound-for-pound boxer. “He held me all night but I did everything I could. I think he held up a lot whenever I came inside.”

Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) was stripped of his WBC and WBO junior lightweight belts Thursday after weighing 131.6 pounds, more than 1½ pounds over the divisional line. Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) weighed 129.6 pounds and was eligible to win the two belts.

These titles are now vacant, and the top two available contenders in each organization’s leaderboards will compete for the belts going forward.

Since Conceicao had gained weight, he would have earned his $200,000 purse even if the fight hadn’t happened. Instead, Stevenson paid Conceicao a $150,000 fine from his $3 million purse, sources told ESPN, part of a side deal to continue the fight.

“Respect him,” Stevenson said, “but everybody wants a paycheck like that.”

The title bid was Conceicao’s second following a September 2021 decision loss to Oscar Valdez. Conceicao also had a competitive disadvantage in this fight; Valdez tested positive for a banned substance weeks before the fight.

The decision loss to Valdez was controversial, but the loss to Stevenson was anything but.

In a homecoming fight, Stevenson showed all the tools that made him a two-division champion and a pound-for-pound contender by the age of 25. His southpaw jab, one of the best in the sport, set the pace and opened up Conceicao’s cover for a left hand jab that did a lot of damage.

Conceicao, a 33-year-old Brazilian, drilled to the body early on with an effective right hand, but Stevenson’s shots were more accurate and compact.

Stevenson’s sharp punches broke Conceicao’s rhythm, a predictable attack with bundles of right-hand loops that he set up with a jab. The Olympic gold medalist invited powerful shots and many hit their target, but few seemed to land clean or affect Stevenson.

The challenger had more success in Round 3 with some flush left hands from awkward angles, but the attack never lasted long enough to build momentum.

Stevenson broke through with the knockdown in the closing moments of Round 4 that seemed to change the trajectory of the fight for good.

Shakur scored with 20 seconds remaining in Round 6 with a powerful left cross that stunned Conceicao before bringing him down to deliver a damaging hook in the dwindling seconds.

Conceicao bounced back in round 8 thanks to a series of flush right hands – the first round he won by a scorecard – but Stevenson’s pressure was beginning to take its toll.

Stevenson normally boxes from the outside but he was aggressive that night, especially on the track. He was deducted a point in round 9 for throwing Conceicao to the mat; Stevenson complained that his opponent was leaning on his neck.

He landed more regularly in the last three laps as Conceicao absorbed the penalty, but he was never in serious danger of being stopped.

“He’s really awkward and he’s really tough, so he knows how to survive,” Stevenson said. “I tried to fight. I wanted to stand there and beat him up. And he grabbed and held on.”

The win was Stevenson’s second of 2022 after a decision loss by Valdez in April that also included a knockdown. That win added a second title to Stevenson’s collection after a TKO by Jamel Herring gave him his first 130lb title in October 2021.

Now those titles are history following Stevenson’s mishap on Thursday, an event the fighter admitted he was embarrassed about.

“I’m tough, even in my rough times I still find a way to push myself,” said Stevenson, ESPN’s No. 1 junior lightweight. Conceicaco was ranked No. 8 after a dominant win over Xavier Martinez in January.

Stevenson added, “I’ve learned that I’m really tough.”

He’ll have ample opportunity to reminisce as he begins his campaign at lightweight, a division far more talented than the divisions Stevenson has competed in.

“All at 135 [pounds] I have to get it,” he said. “We have to fight the champion. me and devin [Haney]we can lock it up after he fight [George] Kambosos [on Oct. 15]. I will fight [Vasiliy] Lomachenko too.”

https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/34653134/shakur-stevenson-defeats-robson-conceicao-unanimous-decision-130-pound-titles-stay-vacant Shakur Stevenson routs Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision; 130-pound titles stay vacant

Emma Bowman

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