By George Gigney
SHAKUR STEVENSON is a good fighter. In fact, you could argue he’s a very good fighter. Now a titlist in three divisions, the unbeaten American is actually one of the most accomplished practitioners in the sport today. But he’s creating a dreadful public image. In his most recent outing the 26-year-old soundly beat Edwin De Los Santos in what was one of the most negative winning performances in recent memory. It was truly dull.
That, obviously, isn’t great for a fighter who wants to become a superstar. For as much as he could shut opponents down, Floyd Mayweather would still be entertaining, particularly in his 20s when he was much more aggressive. So, yes, Stevenson could do with injecting his performances with some more urgency – certainly when he’s clearly levels above the opponent, as was the case with De Los Santos.
But a change in style can take time. What Stevenson can adjust in the short-term is how he comes across to and interacts with fans and the wider boxing following. Since his win over De Los Santos, Shakur has come under fire from all corners for his performance, with critics labelling him a boring fighter. And Stevenson just keeps biting. Whether it’s responding to fans or other fighters, he has repeatedly taken offence to what is being said and been pretty vitriolic in what he’s said on various social media platforms. Most of his responses have since been deleted.
He posted online railing against people who, according to him, don’t know anything about boxing before then also posting screenshots of private messages he had sent people claiming that he was injured heading into the De Los Santos fight. This is all after he had said, in the ring after the fight, that he had “no excuses” for his performance. He also, for some reason, sent Bill Haney – father and trainer of Devin Haney – a video of himself sparring Liam Paro. Haney then posted this video online himself, positing that Stevenson was trying to intimidate him by sending it.
It’s all just really lame. Building a narrative toward a fight (in this case Haney-Stevenson) is one thing, but mudslinging with private messages and cryptic tweets is a bit sad.
Stevenson has every right to be annoyed at some of the criticism he’s received. After all, he’s winning his fights and has even moved up in weight to win ‘world’ titles. But he doesn’t have to lash out so petulantly when people do criticise him. For one, he should at least consider taking some of the comments on board. When your paying audience is complaining about what you’re providing, you’re more than likely going to lose those customers if you don’t change anything.
It could be as simple as someone around him just chiming in every so often to say, “hey, maybe don’t tweet that.” If you look at social media and forums, Stevenson’s posts and responses are turning fans away. When Mayweather was active, people were desperate to see him beaten and humbled in the ring. For now, with Stevenson, many boxing fans simply aren’t interested in watching and that is a big problem for him.
Katie Taylor cemented her place as an Irish sporting icon on Saturday night when she gained revenge over Chantelle Cameron in Dublin. The fight was taking place amid a backdrop of rioting and violence in the Irish capital that came about after a knife attack left five people injured, including three children. The breathtaking main event, and the result, provided at least some relief from the dark news for both the city and country. DAZN did a great job of covering the fights while still acknowledging the wider context. Your mileage may vary on how well they covered potential controversies, such as the slip/knockdown in the Taylor-Cameron fight and some close scores elsewhere on the card, but overall it was a terrific show.
What was disappointing to see was some journalists’ line of questioning after the fight. During the post-fight press conference, promoter Eddie Hearn was asked – not for the first time – about Conor McGregor’s tweets that referenced the knife attack and subsequent riots in Dublin, in which he said Ireland is “at war.” Hearn shut the question down, insisting that he would answer it after the press conference, and that it was not the time nor the place to ask it. You can understand his frustration: Taylor had just achieved an incredible feat. Plus he had already been asked, numerous times, about McGregor’s comments. As Hearn pointed out, he has no direct affiliation with McGregor – the only link was that one of the Irishman’s companies was sponsoring Saturday night’s show.
The question itself isn’t completely irrelevant, however, it just could have been handled better by those asking it. McGregor has been an avid supporter of Taylor for a while, so seeking comment from her promoter about it does make some sense, but perhaps not at the post-fight presser.
We also got confirmation that the big December 23 show in Saudi Arabia, featuring Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder facing Otto Wallin and Joseph Parker respectively, will air on DAZN PPV in the UK and the US. Fans in the States will certainly be pleased to see it priced reasonably at $39.99 while in the UK it’ll set you back £19.99. The announcement states that the show will also be “available on a range of domestic broadcasters in key markets.” Could this include TNT Sports here in the UK? Frank Warren, who has a partnership with the broadcaster, is involved with the event after all. A joint venture between DAZN and TNT could continue to pave the way for more unity in the future.
Boxing on the Box
Nathan Gorman-Bohdan Myronets
Coverage begins at 10pm
Gavin Gwynne-Emiliano Marsili
TNT Sports 2
Coverage begins at 7pm
Michael Conlan-Jordan Gill
Coverage begins at 7pm
Kevin Lele Sadjo-Giovanni De Carolis
Coverage begins at 7pm
Ryan Garcia-Oscar Duarte
Coverage begins at 1am