Shakur Stevenson gives brilliant performance, KOs Jamel Herring

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Everyone knew that Shakur Stevenson is good. But this good?

The gifted 24-year-old outclassed veteran Jamel Herring before stopping him in 10 rounds to take Herring’s WBO 130-pound title and make a powerful statement Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

Stevenson has now won major belts in two divisions within 17 pro fights. In the process, he made it difficult to keep him off pound-for-pound lists.

The challenger was too fast, too good and, in the end, too powerful for the 35-year-old Herring, who was making his fourth title defense but had never faced anyone quite like this opponent.

Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) stood his ground from beginning to end and landed hard, accurate shots, whether it was from a distance or on the inside, the only place where Herring had a chance to win the fight.

It didn’t matter. Herring could neither avoid Stevenson’s quick shots nor keep pace with his work rate, which isn’t a good formula for success.

Shakur Stevenson (left) landed at will against Jamel Herring. AP Photo / Ben Gray

Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) evidently had hopes Stevenson would fade in the later rounds, when he expected to take over. However, the challenger, who had taken little punishment, maintained his domination.

The beginning of the end came in Round 9, when Herring suffered a cut above his right eye. Then, with Herring bleeding in the 10th, Stevenson picked apart his helpless prey until a final flurry – with Herring covering up and not throwing back – prompted referee Mark Nelson to stop the fight.

The official time was 1:30 of Round 10.

Stevenson was all smiles afterward. And why not? He had taken the biggest step yet in his young career, essentially turning a good, experienced opponent into his personal punching bag on national television.

And it might only get better from here. He can now target WBC junior lightweight champ Oscar Valdez in a title-unification bout, as both men fight for the same promoter, Top Rank.

Or he could target the big names at 135 pounds, young stars like Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney. These are the kind of opportunities a fighter gets when he delivers performances like the one on Saturday.

Stevenson has now won major titles in two divisions. Brandon Magnus / Getty Images

And if anyone doubted his ability to beat any of the above, you can bet they now won’t put anything past him.

Meanwhile, Herring might be finished. He talked about retirement after a brutal disqualification victory over Jonathan Oquendo in September of last year. Now, after a thorough beating from an up-and-comer, that notion undoubtedly will cross his mind again.

If that’s the last we see of him, he will have had an outstanding career. The former U.S. Marine overcame two losses in 2016 and 2017 and some personal challenges to build himself into a world champion.

And even though he lost his title in disappointing fashion, he can always say the setback came against one of the most talented young fighters on the planet.

Also on the card, Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs), the grand son of Muhammad Ali, stopped James Westley II (1-1, 0 KOs) 30 seconds into Round 3 of a scheduled four-round middleweight bout.

And 19-year-old junior middleweight prospect Xander Zayas (11-0, xx KOs) stopped Dan Karpency (9-4-1, 4 KOs) at the end of Round 4 in a scheduled six-rounder.

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