- What: WBC lightweight title eliminator
- Who: Shakur Stevenson vs. Shuichiro Yoshino
- Date: Saturday, April 8, 2023
- Location: Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey
- How to Watch: ESPN+
On Saturday, April 8, Shakur Stevenson begins his journey to win a world title in a third weight division when he faces Shuichiro Yoshino at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The 25-year-old Stevenson, who calls Newark home, won an Olympic silver medal in 2016. He has held the WBO featherweight title and the WBO, WBC and The Ring super featherweight titles. He is making his lightweight debut against the 31-year-old Yoshino, who has spent his entire career fighting in his native Japan. The winner of this bout is expected to emerge as the new mandatory challenger for the WBC lightweight title.
Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) enters this fight after he was stripped of his super featherweight titles after missing weight for his September fight opposite Robson Conceicao. Stevenson won that contest via unanimous decision. The Ring does not have Stevenson ranked at 130 or 135 pounds.
Like Stevenson, Yoshino (16-0, 12 KOs) is unranked by The Ring. He enters the title eliminator coming off a sixth-round KO win over Masayoshi Nakatani. Yoshino was not the first option for Stevenson. The WBC first tried to book ranked fighters Isaac Cruz, William Zepeda and former champion George Kambosos, but none of those men accepted the matchup. The winner of this bout is expected to face the victor of an as yet unbooked fight between undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Shuichiro Yoshino picks
Shakur Stevenson vs. Shuichiro Yoshino prediction and pick
Shakur Stevenson is one of the most talented technical boxers in the business right now. Moving up to lightweight will be a test for him, but this matchup is a good way for him to get his feet under him and prepare for his future at 135 pounds.
Stevenson and Yoshino are the same height, but Yoshino has a two-inch reach advantage. It’s hard to tell if that will come into play in this fight because of how defensively sound Stevenson is.
Stevenson does a good job of taking his opponent’s lead hand away and using that to land punches of his own. He prefers to fight at distance, but he is technically sound enough to capitalize on openings in close and is effective at landing when he and his foe break.
No one has been able to outbox Stevenson and I don’t see Yoshino having success there. Yoshino might use Stevenson’s lack of lightweight experience against him and try to overpower him, but that could backfire against a fighter as defensively sound as Stevenson.
Who has the edge
This fight is going to come down to Yoshino’s ability to penetrate Stevenson’s defense. History, via fight stats, tells us that is going to be an enormous hill for Yoshino to climb. Here is where Stevenson ranks among all current boxers in some important stats:
Plus Minus: Stevenson is No. 1 at plus 18.6.
Opponent punches landed per round/fewest: Stevenson is No. 2 at 5.5.
Opponent power punches landed per round/fewest:Stevenson is No. 2 at 4.2.
Opponent total connect rate/lowest: Stevenson is No. 2 at 13.8.
Opponent power punch connect rate/lowest: Stevenson is No. 1 at 17.3.
As for his offense, only seven active fighters have a power connect percentage higher than Stevenson’s 45.7 percent.
Best Bets for Shakur Stevenson vs. Shuichiro Yoshino
This an incredible step up in competition for Yoshino and he has nothing to lose by going for broke against Stevenson. If you feel like Yoshino can score a surprise knockout, there is some value in that bet, but not enough value to make a large wager on that outcome. The best bet for Stevenson and Yoshino is a Stevenson victory. If you want to find some value bets, pick Stevenson to win via decision and for the fight to go the distance.
Pick: Shakur Stevenson to beat Shuichiro Yoshino by decision.
See below the best sportsbooks where you can wager online and choose the best one for you: