Shakur Stevenson dominated Felix Caraballo over six one-sided rounds on Tuesday at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas in what was the return of boxing to the city.
Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) was sharp from the beginning, muting the aggression of Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs), who tried to press Stevenson early but was met with a variety of sharp and accurate punches that seemingly came from all directions. Stevenson scored a knockdown in the first round after striking Caraballo in the body with a right hook.
"I came in to get him out of there," Stevenson said. "I hit him with everything I could early on. I wobbled him a bunch of times. He took a lot of punishment. I started realizing the head shots weren't going to get him out of there, so I started going to the body."
It became steadily worse for Caraballo, who was game but outclassed. The only real moment of difficulty for Stevenson was when he winced and shook his left hand after landing a punch with it in the fifth. According to ESPN's Bernardo Osuna, who was ringside in Las Vegas, Stevenson headed to the hospital after the fight for further evaluation.
After softening the body of his opponent for a few rounds, Stevenson landed a digging left to the stomach of Caraballo in the sixth round, putting him on his knees and forcing referee Tony Weeks to wave off the fight.
"He opened up wide, and I caught him in between his punch," Stevenson said. "I caught him right in the middle of his shot."
This was a nontitle affair for Stevenson, who is the reigning WBO featherweight champion, and his first outing since his mid-March bout against Miguel Marriaga was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. Stevenson, who was bitterly disappointed about not being able to perform a few months ago, was relieved to be back at work.
Despite the victory -- something Stevenson is very much used to -- he admitted that this fight was unlike any other, given the protocols surrounding the event.
"It was a different atmosphere -- losing the weight was different, training in the gym was different. I couldn't be around nobody," said Stevenson, adding that not having a live audience was awkward. "It is a little different."
Just 22 years old, Stevenson seems to be getting bigger and stronger, and there are questions about whether he will go back down to 126 pounds and make a defense of that WBO belt. There was talk of him facing IBF champion Josh Warrington in a unification bout, but an agreement does not seem imminent.
It isn't clear where Stevenson's immediate future lies, but many believe he will be one of the most dominant boxers for the next decade, with comparisons being made to Floyd Mayweather.
"We're two different fighters. We got two different styles. I got my own style,'' Stevenson said regarding the Mayweather comparisons. "I'm still my own fighter. I'm the first Shakur Stevenson."
Las Vegas had not hosted a boxing event since Feb. 22, when Tyson Fury knocked out Deontay Wilder in seven rounds.