LAS VEGAS -- Shakur Stevenson entered the fight on Thursday against Edwin De Los Santos looking to make a statement as his star grows brighter. And now, while he won a title in a third weight class, his stock is down after one of the worst TV main events in recent memory.
Stevenson offered no excuses after he eked by De Los Santos via scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112 in a lightweight title fight where neither fighter reached double-digit connects in any of the 12 rounds.
"I had a bad performance tonight," said Stevenson, ESPN's No. 8 pound-for-pound boxer. "That's all I'm really focused on. I wasn't feeling too good, so I'll live with it. It's OK....
"I didn't feel good before the fight," he continued. "Honestly, I had already told myself that if I feel like this in the ring and if it's not going well, I'm going to make sure that I box and get the victory."
Stevenson showed limited offense throughout, but especially with his left hand. When asked if his hand was injured, Stevenson didn't elaborate.
"I don't got nothing to say about that," he said. "I don't make excuses. It happens. We go through a lot as fighters."
Devin Haney, who has jousted with Stevenson on social media for months, wrote on X, "Stop that scared narrative ... nobody was ever scared of that bum!"
Stevenson and others have called him perhaps the most-avoided fighter in boxing.
Boxing star Ryan Garcia wrote on that same platform, "Imagine going to this fight for Formula 1 weekend, I would ask for my money back and go straight to bed, that's how sleepy I'd be from being there."
The style clash is largely to blame for the lack of action. Both boxers are southpaw counter-punchers and neither one wanted to lead.
So while Stevenson escaped with the victory and his third division title -- one taken from Haney after he signed to fight Regis Prograis on Dec. 9 -- he'll have to rebound from a night filled with boos and fans headed for the exits before the fight even ended.
But all was not lost on this Thursday night from an entertainment perspective.
Emanuel Navarrete, boxing's most-reliable action fighter, delivered yet again with another slugfest, but was surprisingly held to a draw in a 130-pound title defense against Robson Conceicao.
Navarrete floored Conceicao twice -- in Rounds 4 and 7 -- and was on the verge of stopping him in Round 11, but the Olympic gold medalist won the final round on all three scorecards to avoid a defeat and likely earn a rematch.
To wash away the bad taste from his fight, Stevenson needs to fight a pressure fighter who lets his hands go, someone he can counter in an entertaining fight. Navarrete more than fits the bill, and has been linked to a potential April fight for Stevenson, but his draw changes things as a rematch could be next.
William Zepeda, who is promoted by Golden Boy, might be Stevenson's best option at this point. The undefeated Mexican routinely throws upward of 1,000 punches per fight. He once even topped the 1,500 mark. Against a volume puncher like Zepeda, Stevenson could showcase his skills in a TV-friendly bout that helps fans forget this night once and for all.
Here's how I saw the action throughout the night: