Strictly Business Boxing
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Jr Lightweight Destruction:

Stevenson Rolls Through Nakathila

Pedraza Topples Rodriguez

In Top Rank On ESPN Co-Feature

(June 12th) Shakur Stevenson said it would be one-sided, and he stayed true to his word, rolling past Namibian knockout artist Jeremiah Nakathila via unanimous decision (120-107, 3x) to win the vacant WBO interim junior lightweight world title Saturday at The Theater at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.

 

Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs) had the height and reach advantage but little else to trouble Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a former featherweight world champion looking to conquer a second weight division.

 

Stevenson knocked down Nakathila with a lightning-fast right hook in the fourth round, and the one-way traffic continued into the second half of the fight.

 

The knockout did not come, and Stevenson had to settle for the one-sided decision. With Nakathila out of the way, he has bigger names in mind.

 

Stevenson said, “To be honest, I didn’t really like my performance. I felt I could’ve performed a lot better, but it was an awkward fighter. You had an awkward fighter throwing hard punches, and he knows how to grab and get away. He was a real awkward fighter. That’s all.”

 

“I tried to {get him out of there} a little bit, but I started getting hit with some solid shots. I ain’t really like it, but next time I’m going to work on moving my head a little bit more and step it up a little more.”

 

“If I had the choice, I’d take Oscar Valdez, but if I had to beat up Jamel {Herring} to get to it, I’ll do that, too.”

Pedraza Takes Rodriguez to School

Youth was no match for experience, as former two-weight world champion Jose "Sniper" Pedraza (29-3, 14 KOs) barreled his way into the junior welterweight world title picture with an eighth-round stoppage over the previously undefeated Julian "Hammer Hands" Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs). Rodriguez's left eye swelled up early, and following the eighth round, he told his corner he could no longer see out of the injured eye.

 

Pedraza has now won three straight bouts since losing his junior welterweight debut to Jose Zepeda. At the time of the stoppage, he held a 77-75 lead on all three judges' cards.

 

Pedraza said, “My experience was too much for him. I was hungrier than him, and he was just another obstacle in my journey to become a three-division world champion. That is my goal.

 

“I want all the big names at 140 pounds. With this performance, I sent a message to those big names. The ‘Sniper’ is on the hunt. I want to make history for Puerto Rico.

 

“As the fight went on, I could see him weakening, and I took advantage."

 

Junior Lightweight: Manuel Rey Rojas (21-5, 6 KOs) UD8 Tyler McCreary (16-2-1, 7 KOs). Scores: 80-72 2x and 79-73. Dallas native Rojas applied the pressure and registered the most significant win of his career. He dropped a unanimous decision to Albert Bell two months ago and rebounded in fine fashion against Toledo's McCreary, a one-time top prospect who has now lost two in a row.

 

Junior Welterweight: John Bauza (15-0, 6 KOs) TKO2 Christon Edwards (12-3, 6 KO), :40. Bauza, in his first fight in nearly a year, fought like his trunks were on fire, as he dropped the Houston-based veteran Edwards three times in 3:40 of action. Bauza, from Cataño, Puerto Rico, scored his first stoppage since December 2017.

Welterweight: Xander Zayas (9-0, 7 KOs) TKO3 Larry Fryers (11-4, 4 KOs), 1:02. The 18-year-old Puerto Rican prodigy added yet another highlight to his growing reel, as he battered Irish veteran Fryers from pillar to post until referee Celestino Ruiz mercifully stopped the fight. After the stoppage, Zayas leaped on one of the neutral corner ropes and proclaimed, "This is Boxing. This is Top Rank."

 

Junior Lightweight: Bryan Lua (8-0, 3 KOs) UD6 Frevian Gonzalez (4-1, 1 KO). Scores: 60-54 2x and 58-56. In a battle of unbeatens, California Central Valley product Lua's power told the story, as he repeatedly moved back his Puerto Rican foe. Lua has now won three straight since returning from a more than two-year layoff.

 

Middleweight: Troy Isley (2-0, 1 KO) TKO4 LaQuan Evans (4-2, 2 KOs). 2:26. Isley, who will represent the United States at the Tokyo Olympics this summer, fit in a last-round knockout before his gold medal quest. Isley was dominating the action until referee Russell Mora in stepped with only 34 seconds remaining in the four-rounder.

 

Welterweight: Kasir Goldston (3-0, 1 KO) UD4 Maurice Anthony (3-2, 3 KOs). Scores: 40-36 3x. Goldston impressed in his 2021 debut in turning back the hard-charging Anthony, who had won two straight by knockout entering the evening. 

 

Welterweight: Jahi Tucker (4-0, 2 KOs) UD4 Ysrael Barboza (3-2-1, 3 KOs). Scores: 40-36 3x. The 18-year-old Tucker passed the stiffest test of his young career, using his superior athletic ability to shut out Texas native Barboza.

 

About Virgin Hotels Las Vegas

Virgin Hotels Las Vegas is a reimagined and re-conceptualized casino resort. The property is part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. The integrated resort intermixes a passion for food and beverage with music and culture and features three hotel towers totaling over 1,500 Chambers and suites; the 60,000 sq. ft. Mohegan Sun Casino, operated by Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment; a five-acre desert pool oasis including a multi-functional event lawn; live music and entertainment theater with 4,500 capacity; 24 Oxford showroom accommodating 650 guests; an exclusive portfolio of twelve food and beverage venues including Todd English’s Olives, Kris Yenbamroong’s Night + Market, the legendary Nobu, Michael and David Morton’s One Steakhouse, Kassi Beach House from restauranteur Nick Mathers, Casa Calavera by global hospitality company Hakkasan Group, the sports entertainment, daylife and nightlife venue Money, Baby! from Justin Massei and Mikis Troyan of Clive Collective, famous Afters Ice Cream, Pizza Forte by the Ferraro Family and signature Virgin Hotels restaurants and bars including The Kitchen at Commons Club, The Bar at Commons Club, The Shag Room and Funny Library Coffee Shop. The property is owned by JC Hospitality, LLC, in partnership with Juniper Capital Partners, Virgin Group, LiUNA, Fengate Asset Management, Dream and Orlando Development. The off-Strip playground is located at 4455 Paradise Road.

 

About Virgin Hotels

Virgin Hotels is a lifestyle hospitality brand that combines heartfelt service, straightforward value, and a seamless, personalized hotel experience with the track record of innovation and smart disruption that Sir Richard Branson's global Virgin Group has pioneered for 50 years. Each property intermixes a passion for food and beverage with music and culture, fusing with the local landscape and providing a vibrant and inclusive environment for travelers and locals alike. Virgin Hotels Chicago - named the "#1 Hotel in the United States" in 2016 and "#1 Hotel in Chicago" in 2016, 2017, and 2020 by the Conde Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards - Virgin Hotels Dallas - named the "#16 Hotel in Texas" - Virgin Hotels Nashville and Virgin Hotels Las Vegas are now open. Locations in New York, New Orleans, Miami, Edinburgh and Glasgow to follow. Virgin Hotels continues to explore hotel and office conversions and ground-up development in Boston, Los Angeles, Austin, Seattle, and London.

 

About Curio Collection by Hilton

Curio Collection by Hilton is a global portfolio of nearly 100 one-of-a-kind hotels and resorts. Curio Collection properties offer travelers authentic, curated experiences through distinctly local offerings and elevated amenities, while providing the benefits of Hilton and its award-winning guest loyalty program Hilton Honors. Read the latest brand and hotel stories at newsroom.hilton.com/curio, and connect with Curio Collection on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

About ESPN+

ESPN+ is the industry-leading sports streaming service that offers fans in the U.S. thousands of live sports events, original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks and exclusive editorial content from dozens of ESPN writers and reporters. Launched in April 2018, ESPN+ has grown to more than 12.1 million subscribers.

 

Fans sign up to ESPN+ for just $5.99 a month (or $59.99 per year) at ESPN.com, ESPNplus.com or on the ESPN App (mobile and connected devices). It is also available as part of The Disney Bundle offer that gives subscribers access to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu (ad-supported) — all for just $12.99/month.

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