Josh Warrington x Shakur Stevenson|Can the Improving Young Fighter Overcome the Peaking Champion?

Lil’ Wayne isn’t the only one who feels as though they can pick the world up at times. In the sport of boxing, this is a regular feeling as it’s a battle of attrition where only a single victor triumphs (unless there’s a draw) both physically and mentally. This feeling must certainly be the feeling of Newark, New Jersey’s Shakur Stevenson, 10-0 (6 KOs), following his recent run to include a four round dismantling of Jessie Rosales on January 18, 2019. Stevenson’s bout was the co-feature of the Bryant Jennings v Oscar Rivas Heavyweight clash.

After the victory, Stevenson made it very clear who he wanted to face next. None other than the “The Leeds Warrior,” Josh Warrington, 28-0 (6 KOs). Hailing from Leeds, England, Warrington is the IBF World Featherweight Champion coming off of his most emphatic year to date in his professional career, 2018. This past May, Warrington won the IBF title by picking up a split decision (unanimous in my opinion) victory over then champion Lee Selby. Selby had defended the title four times since winning it in 2015 and was on a 22-fight win streak dating back to 2009. This, though, didn’t matter to the tenacious Warrington.

In December 2018, Warrington scored his most impressive victory with a 12th round unanimous decision over former Super Bantamweight and Featherweight World Champion, Carl Frampton. Warrington showed that he was worth the price of admission by forcing the fight with Frampton from the opening bell. Not only did he control the fight, but he also strategically took Frampton completely off of his game. While Warrington only has six knockouts, when it came time to bang, he banged! In two fights that essentially could have been deemed 50/50, Warrington triumphed.

Thus far, every ‘step-up’ fight test in Stevenson’s career has been passed with flying colors. At 21 years of age, youth is most certainly on his side and he’s not only coming into his own, but he’s also getting better at a pace that may see him become world champion barely into is his second year as a pro. His current trajectory is that which would align with some of the best the sport has seen. He has looked the part and is seemingly growing into the part physically. This has led him to focus on one mission, Josh Warrington.

There are a number of great matches to be made in the sport of boxing and many with intrigue. This fight can be added to the list. Here and now, I declare, Warrington v Stevenson is one of the absolute best match-ups that can be made in boxing. This, though, won’t be a surprise to many as the talent between the two is undeniable. Warrington’s amateur career was brief, only 48 fights, based on the information I could gather. That pales in comparison to Stevenson who was a 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

It doesn’t have to be stated for those in the know, but the amateurs is not the pros and great amateurs aren’t necessarily guaranteed to translate into great pros. Both fighters are at different stages of their careers. The 28 year old Warringon has gone a total of 213 rounds in his career thus far, which has spanned around nine years. By comparison, Stevenson has only been a pro for just under two years and has only fought 39 rounds. To that same degree, Stevenson’s knockout percentage is a 60% compared to only 21% for Warrington.

The level of pro competition can’t be compared as Warringon has defeated multiple former world champion and title contenders. Stevenson has yet to face a top level contender. Warrington has shown the ability to adjust to his opponents and Stevenson has essentially out-boxed every opponent he’s faced. This, in a sense, shows that Stevenson’s amateur pedigree has been beneficial and for the most part has translated. As I previously mentioned, he’s only getting better.

While the fight ins’t official and to my knowledge hasn’t been discussed between the two camps, the universe has paved the way. This fight could certainly be made as neither fighter has a match-up on deck at the current moment and each are coming off of impressive wins, Warrington’s being more taxing. Timing can be everything in the sport of boxing and if all things align, this could the be the perfect example of such should this fight get made.

Can the improving young fighter overcome the peaking veteran? This is the question of the hour. We have examples of fights that have gone in each direction when a young fighter faced a peaking veteran over the years. There’s something special about each of these two fighters. Regardless of the outcome, the fight in itself is enough to generate interest across the globe. With being willing to on such a lofty task in facing Warrington and in Warrinton’s backyard nonetheless, Stevenson dares to be great. This is why we love the sweet science. When and if this fight happens, may the best man on that day win.


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