Why Shakur Stevenson versus the elite would finish 6-0

It’s difficult not to wax lyrical when it comes to two-weight world champion Shakur Stevenson. The Olympic silver medalist from the 2016 games in Rio is sublimely skilled, impossibly quick, and extremely hard to hit in a boxing ring.

On Thursday, November 16, Stevenson will look to secure his third divisional championship when he takes on hard-hitting lefty Edwin De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title.

The Newark-born slickster is a prohibitive favourite to win the bout at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but he is motivated by the opportunity to collect more hardware.

“This means the world to me,” said Stevenson during the final press conference on Tuesday. “I’ve been grinding my whole life for these moments. I’m back in the same situation I was before, fighting for another vacant title.

“My performance is based on how I feel. I’m performing for myself. I know that if I come in at my best, I will be hard to deal with for everybody.”

WATCH: Shakur Stevenson vs. Edwin De Los Santos, exclusively on ESPN+

The unbeaten Stevenson is unquestionably a hard night’s work and everyone in boxing knows it. It seems that every time the 26-year-old ascends the scales, his potential competition also elects to move north.

Indeed, it’s conceivable that Stevenson won’t spend too long at lightweight because more than one of his rivals has moved on to super lightweight. As the great Joe Louis said, “You can run, but you can’t hide!”

The Sporting News looks at six potential elite-level opponents for Stevenson and makes a prediction on the outcome.

MORE: Exclusive: Shakur Stevenson is fed up with everyone

It’s likely no coincidence that Navarrete is being showcased on the undercard of Stevenson vs. De Los Santos.

The Mexican warrior is campaigning five pounds below the lightweight limit and he’s shown a propensity to take on all comers in his career. Already a two-weight world champion, Navarrete will view Stevenson as the ultimate challenge and there’s a strong likelihood that we will see this one next.

As good as Navarrete is, he’s there to be hit and his vaunted aggression will probably be his undoing against Stevenson, who is a sublime counterpuncher.

Prediction: Stevenson by decision

A three-weight world champion and a former pound-for-pound No.1, Lomachenko is a lot closer to the end of his Hall of Fame career than the beginning.

“Loma” put forth a marvelous effort against then-undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney in May. However, the Ukrainian wizard dropped a close unanimous decision in that bout and then passed on a Stevenson showdown.

Stevenson vs. Lomachenko is an easy match to make politically, as both fighters are aligned with Top Rank, and it’s an authentic lightweight superfight. Unfortunately, the clock might prevent this one from taking place because the 35-year-old Lomachenko is winding down.

Prediction: Stevenson by decision

This is the biggest fight in the lightweight division.

“Tank” Davis was already a huge star before he shut down Ryan Garcia’s internal organs with a picturesque body shot knockout in April of this year. With this career-defining victory on his resume, the matchup with Stevenson became even bigger.

Not so fast. Davis is managed by Premier Boxing Champions, who require a new home after Showtime pulled the plug on boxing content. Will PBC’s next move make a Davis vs. Stevenson fight easier or harder to make? That remains to be seen.

Both fighters have incredible ring IQ, but it’s Davis by KO or Stevenson by decision.

Prediction: Stevenson by decision

Haney, like Stevenson, doesn’t feel like he’s been given the respect he deserves for what he’s achieved thus far. Last year, the super-skilled 24-year-old made history by becoming the first undisputed lightweight champion since Pernell Whitaker in the early 1990s.

But while the man he defeated, George Kambosos, was a top-level foe, fight fans still wanted to see Haney mix with Davis, Stevenson and Lomachenko. Haney took on the latter in May and was viewed by some as very lucky to retain his championship. He now moves on to a fight against WBC super lightweight king Regis Prograis on December 9.

Stevenson vs. Haney would be a terrific boxing match and it might come down to who brings their A-game on the night. Stevenson looks like he has the slight edge, regardless of whether they fight at 135 or 140 pounds.

Prediction: Stevenson by decision

Prograis hasn’t really been mentioned as a potential opponent for Stevenson, but that would change if the New Orleans-based lefty defeated Devin Haney.

If Prograis wins that contest (not out of the question), he crosses over to superstar status and only five pounds would separate him from a Stevenson showdown. Would he be interested? It would probably depend on demand, but Prograis has never ducked a challenge.

It’s likely that Prograis hits welterweight waters in the near future, so this one is unlikely. If it did happen at 140, Stevenson’s slick style and quickness might prove too complicated a puzzle for Prograis to solve.

Prediction: Stevenson by decision

Shakur Stevenson vs the elite would end 6-0: Predicting fights against Tank, Lomachenko and more

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