It’s set to be a cracker of a main event at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia this Saturday night, as Shakur Stevenson attempts to become a two-weight world champion, but he has his hands full against the WBO super featherweight champion, Jamel Herring.
Viewers in the UK can see Herring take on Stevenson on Sky Sports, while ESPN are the US broadcasters for the Top Rank card.
Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) is making the fourth defence of the belt that he impressively won from Matsayuki Ito via a wide points win in May 2019.
Two years prior to that title win, ’Semper Fi’ lost clearly over ten to the unheralded Ladarius Miller, and a year prior to that, he was stopped in ten by Denis Shafikov, but the 35-year-old has really bloomed since becoming world champion, and he followed the win over Ito with a clear victory on the cards against Lamont Roach.
Herring then dominated against Jonathan Oquendo, before the Puerto Rican was thrown out for repeated intentional head butts. He was last out in April, when a much talked about meeting with Carl Frampton finally took place in Dubai.
In a contest many considered close to call, Herring was superb as he dismantled the Belfast man, eventually dropping him twice on the way to a sixth round stoppage win.
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He now faces a tricky test against a man tipped for stardom. Shakur Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic Silver medallist, has been largely untested in the professional ranks thus far, and won the vacant WBO belt at featherweight in October 2019 with a wide points win over Joet Gonzalez.
Stevenson vacated without making a defence of the belt, opting to move up to super featherweight, banking wins over Felix Caraballo (KO6) and Toka Kahn Clary (UD10).
The 24-year-old was recently in action in June, and he took the interim version of the belt he faces Herring for with a landslide points win against Jeremia Nakathila, knocking the Namibian down in round four and winning every round.
Prediction: Herring has improved immensely over the past few years, and he should give Stevenson the toughest test of his career to date.
The challenger is a slippery operator though, and that should be enough to frustrate Herring into chasing the fight and make the mistakes needed for Stevenson to seize control.
I think Stevenson can take a clear decision win, but Herring will be a tough man to discourage.
Xander Zayas (10-0, 7 KOs) is a hot prospect to keep an eye on, and the Puerto Rican gets his first scheduled eight rounder in a super welterweight attraction against Pennsylvania’s Dan Karpency (9-3-1, 4 KOs).
Zayas has been pretty flawless so far in his pro career, and the 19-year-old secured a points win his last contest against Jose Luis Sanchez last month.
Karpency is 2-2-1 in his last five outings, and is coming off an eight round loss to Cody Wilson, but that was back in February 2020.
Prediction: Zayas should secure a simple points win.
Evander Holyfield’s son features
Also at super welterweight, Evan Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), the son of four-time heavyweight champion, Evander Holyfield goes for win number eight, and he gets a six rounder against Charles Stanford (6-3, 3 KOs).
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The 23-year-old has been matched very carefully so far, and Stanford doesn’t represent much of a step-up in class here.
Prediction: Holyfield should be able to get the job done inside schedule.
Livsey tackles Palmer
The other six rounder comes at super lightweight, where Roddricus Livsey (8-0-1, 5 KOs) shouldn’t encounter too many problems with Eric Palmer (12-14-5, 1 KO). He may need the scorecards to get his hand raised though.
Muhammad Ali’s grandson makes second appearance
Five four rounders round off a pretty sparse undercard. At middleweight, Nico Ali Walsh (1-0, 1 KO) continues the legacy of his grandfather, Muhammad Ali, and he takes on James Westley II (1-0) in a contest that he can take in the early rounds.
🥊 Muhammad Ali’s grandson, @NicoAliX74 scored a first round knockout on his pro debut on Saturday ✅
🩳 Ali Walsh wore his grandfather’s shorts from the 60’s 🤝
— Pro Boxing Fans (@ProBoxingFans) August 16, 2021
At lightweight, Harley Mederos (1-0, 1 KO) can see off Deljerro Revello (0-1) also inside the distance, while Troy Isley (2-0, 1 KO) can secure win number three with a points victory over Nicholi Navarro (2-1, 2 KOs).
In a battle of unbeaten featherweights, Haven Brady Jr (3-0, 3 KOs) can take an early win against Roberto Negrete (3-0, 1 KO), and debutant Antoine Cobb should have too much for Jerrion Campbell (2-1, 1 KO).