January 28, 2023

Simon Ruvalcaba

“Reality is wrong. Dreams are for real” -Tupac Shakur-….. Shakur Stevenson’s boxing career has always had a certain type of destiny attached to it that has become a dream come true. Like his namesake, Stevenson has risen to heights that should motivate any inner-city child or anybody facing tough odds put on by society. Saturday night at the Convention Center in Reno, NV, the stage was set for Top Rank’s star to rise into Boxing Championship history.

The atmosphere in Reno, NV throughout the week was like the scene from ‘The Lion King’ where all the Lions gather for the crowning of a new king. With the likes of Big Brother and Sister figures such as Andre Ward, Terence Crawford, Jarrett Hurd, Claressa Shields and even a proud Mom figure like publicist Julie Goldsticker ascending into town to support Shakur Stevenson in his first attempt at a World Title, the only thing left was for the 2016 Olympian to step into the ring and shine against fellow unbeaten Featherweight Joet Gonzalez.

The crowning ceremony turned out to be a flawless shining moment for the destined warrior from the Brick City! Newark, NJ’s Stevenson was in a zone that Gonzalez couldn’t catch nor break as Shakur rolled to a unanimous (119-109 all cards) to claim the vacant W.B.O. Featherweight Title. Stevenson proved himself mature beyond his age in the ring and his reign is expected to be a long one that should be enjoyed! With the title winning performance, Stevenson is now 13-0 (7), The game Gonzalez who couldn’t get into rhythm falls to 23-1 (14).

In a ten round super featherweight female contest, 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer continued to shine in her pro career improving to 12-0 (5) with her domination of Argentina’s Alejandra Zamora. Mayer dominated with solid combos and crisp shots with Zamora against the ropes. After six rounds of solid punishment, the fight was finally stopped between rounds. The brave Zamora falls to 7-4 (1).

In a ten round Bantamweight bout for the WBC Continental Americas title, Chicago’s Joshua Greer, JR. used his speed while Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves pressed the action and scored a knockdown of Greer in the final round. It was a spirited battle down the stretch but the speed and defense of Greer put him ahead in the eyes of Punchline and one official judge did agree with Punchline, scoring 96-93 while two other judges scored 95-94 all for the winner, Joshua Greer, JR. now 22-1-1 (12). Nieves falls to 19-3-2 (11) and while he loses the battle, he won over the fans as he exited the ring to cheers as Greer was doing his post fight interview center ring.

Toledo, Ohio’s Albert Bell remained unbeaten with an uneventful 8 round unanimous decision over Reading, PA’s Frank De Alba. It was a sparring session like fight which had the crowd cheering when the final bell sounded as they had seen more than enough. Bell improves to 16-0 (5), De Alba falls to 23-5-2 (9). Styles make fights and when you have two fighters that are waiting on the other fighter to make a move, it makes for one of these type of fights that is a pebble in the river of boxing history.

In a spirited lightweight contest Las Vegas, NV’s Francisco Esparza, JR.’s first round knockdown turned out to be the difference as he handed Pittsburgh, PA’s Matt Conway his first pro defeat. Conway rebounded the bout was a back and forth affair for the remainder. All three judges scored the bout 76-75 with two of the three having it in favor of Esparza for the split decision victory. Esparza is now 10-1-1 (3), while the skilled and game Conway falls to 17-1 (7).

In a 4 round lightweight battle of unbeaten fighters, Colton, CA’s ‘MR.’ Mike Sanchez improved to 6-0 (2) as he came into hostile territory against nearby Carson City, NV’s Diego Elizondo. It was a good scrap between two young southpaws with Elizondo using lateral movement and quick combos while Sanchez pressed the action with timed punches and scored a knockdown in the 3rd round. Press row was mixed but official judges scored 38-37 (twice), and 39-36 for the Southern California fighter. Elizondo falls to 2-1-2.

17 year old High School Senior Xander Zayas of Davie, FL by way of Puerto Rico’s pro debut ended at 1:24 of the opening round over Denver’s Genesis Wynn in a Welterweight contest. The new, youngest ever signed Top Rank fighter has a bright future and is a solidly built fighter at seventeen. Wynn falls to 1-1.

Local Welterweight J.J. Mariano scored a crowd pleasing unanimous 4 round decision over San Antonio, TX’s Sean Cerveny. It was a shutout performance as all 3 judges scored it 40-36. The Pat Jefferson trained Mariano is now 2-0 (1), Cerveny drops to 0-2.

In an 8 round Super Featherweight contest, San Jose, CA’s Andy Vences rebounded from his first career loss with a unanimous (79-73 all cards) decision over Filipino Mark Bernaldez. Vences improves to 23-1-1 (12), Bernaldez falls to 19-3 (13).

Albuquerque, New Mexico’s Jason Sanchez returned to the ring following World Title loss to Oscar Valdez and scored an impressive 4th round stoppage of Brazil’s Adeilson Dos Santos. A left hook to the body ended the night at 2:59. Sanchez improves to 15-1 (7). Dos Santos falls to 19-7 (15).

In the opening bout of the evening, Heavyweight amateur stand out Jared ‘Big Baby’ Anderson had an impressive pro debut stopping Daniel Infante of Youngstown, Ohio 54 seconds into the contest with a vicious left hook to the body. Infante falls to 1-3.

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