Shakur Retains His Title, But Once Again Fails To Impress

Shakur Stevenson defeated Artem Harutyunyan to retain his WBC Lightweight Title via a unanimous decision. 

Shakur was under huge pressure coming into the fight, as it was his last bout under his Top Rank deal. He had to defy the pre-fight narrative that he was a boring fighter. His last performance against Edwin De Los Santos was booed. While he won an easy decision, he failed to get the stoppage.

Stevenson was circling on the outside, with both men trying to find their range. Artem tried to close the distance in a cagey opener. The second round was much the same, with Stevenson slipping out of range. Artem was controlling the center, landing a three-punch combination. However, Stevenson countered with a right hand of his own.

In round four, Stevenson was now standing in the center. Shakur landed his shots through the guard, but they lacked the power as Artem made Stevenson turn to his right and away from his southpaw power hand. The champion had his best round in the fifth, snapping Artem’s head with the jab. Another jab landed on the head. Shakur connected with an uppercut and a left hook as the round ended.

Shakur was walking his opponent down by round six. Stevenson landed a right hook, followed by a straight left. A one-two also followed as the momentum was shifting. Artem was not going away, but he was behind, heading into the second half of the fight.

Following the seventh, Shakur arose from his corner, saying,  ‘I have to stop him.’ By round eight, Artem was boxing on the outside, showing a reluctance to engage as a few jeers could be heard from the crowd. Stevenson increased the pace in the ninth, connecting with double left hooks.

A left uppercut also landed, while Artem threw shots in return, with both trading in the center. Stevenson was looking for the knockout as the fight entered the championship rounds. Some fans left the arena heading into the final round due to the lack of action. The stoppage never came, but Stevenson won a comfortable decision on the cards: 119-109, 118-110 and 116-112. Shakur will now explore his free agency after reportedly turning down an extension from Top Rank that guaranteed him $3 million per bout.

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