As much as Shakur Stevenson wanted to display his superiority over Frank Martin, the unbeaten Stevenson believes he’ll face a better, more dangerous southpaw November 16.
Stevenson considers Edwin De Los Santos a more complex opponent than Martin, who withdrew from their fight a few days after initially accepting an offer to face Stevenson in an ESPN main event next month. The Dominican Republic’s De Los Santos lost to undefeated William Foster III by split decision four fights ago, but he has stopped previously unbeaten prospect Jose Valenzuela and thoroughly outboxed veteran Joseph Adorno in back-to-back bouts.
“I think he’s a harder challenge than Frank Martin,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com recently. “Once again, I been watching him, so I kinda see like he got great movement, he got great punching power. I watched his fight with [Valenzuela]. He kinda kept catching him in the exchanges. And he’s real good at exchanging with fighters, so we’ll see come fight night how he present his self.”
Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs), a two-weight world champion who is widely viewed as a top 10 pound-for-pound talent, will battle De Los Santos (16-1, 14 KOs) for the vacant WBC lightweight title in a main event ESPN will televise November 16 from T-Mobile Arena. Some sportsbooks have established Stevenson as at least a 10-1 favorite in advance of their 12-round, 135-pound championship clash.
De Los Santos has knocked out 82 percent of his opponents, whereas Martin has won 67 percent of his professional fights by knockout (18-0, 12 KOs).
“Do I see him as a bigger puncher?,” Stevenson replied when asked about De Los Santos’ power. “Yeah, I see him as a bigger puncher than Frank Martin, from the outside looking in.”
The 23-year-old De Los Santos’ stoppage of Valenzuela 13 months ago at Staples Center in Los Angeles changed the course of his career. The Santo Domingo native got up from a second-round knockdown, dropped Valenzuela (then 12-0) in the second round and again in the third round, when their scheduled 10-round bout was stopped while Valenzuela was still standing.
De Los Santos didn’t drop Adorno (17-3-2, 14 KOs), but he defeated Adorno by shutout on two scorecards July 8 at Boardwalk Hall’s Adrian Phillips Theater in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“He’s a good fighter,” Bob Arum, Stevenson’s promoter, told BoxingScene.com regarding De Los Santos. “He’s gonna give Shakur a good fight. But if you want my honest opinion, there ain’t nobody out there that’s gonna beat Shakur.”
Stevenson, 26, most recently stopped previously unbeaten Japanese contender Shuichiro Yoshino (16-1, 12 KOs) in the sixth round of their April 8 bout at Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
Arum also feels De Los Santos could test Stevenson more than Martin would have been able to do.
“I think it’s maybe a tougher fight,” Arum said. “We went after Martin because he was above anybody else [in the WBC ratings] when we went down the list. Then we got to Martin and [promoter] Tom Brown accepted the fight in good faith. And then Martin pulled out. Why he did that, I don’t know.”
Stevenson, who is ranked number one by the WBC, and the sixth-ranked De Los Santos will fight for the unclaimed WBC lightweight belt because Devin Haney has been declared the WBC’s 135-pound champion in recess. Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) moved up to the 140-pound division for his next fight, a shot at WBC super lightweight champ Regis Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) on December 9 at Chase Center in San Francisco.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.