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Stevenson seizes title in grudge match

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Shakur Stevenson (L) beat Joet Gonzalez by a unanimous decision in a 125 pound grudge match. AFP

Stevenson seizes title in grudge match

Shakur Stevenson won his first title on Saturday, easily beating Joet Gonzalez by a unanimous decision in a 125 pound grudge match between two undefeated boxers.

The 22-year-old Stevenson claimed the vacant World Boxing Organization title and became the first boxer from the 2016 US Rio Olympic team to win a major title.

Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) not only won on all three of the judges’ scorecards, but each gave him all but one round in the 12-round featherweight fight in Reno, Nevada.

The bad blood between the fighters continued afterwards with Gonzalez rejecting Stevenson’s attempt in the ring to make peace with his family.

Joet (23-1) is the brother of Stevenson’s girlfriend Jajaira, and is trained by his father. Jajaira is estranged from her family.

“I have nothing but respect for Joet. It was personal for him but business for me,” Stevenson said.

“I told him he is a hell of a fighter, but he didn’t want to talk to me.”

The fighters were mostly kept apart after the final bell.

The Gonzalez family has had little contact with Jajaira since she started dating her longtime boyfriend Stevenson. Joet said he is not ready to forget and forgive.

“Obviously it was personal. He said a lot of things,” said Joet. “It was between me and him, the disrespect he was putting out.

“I don’t know how he can say he has no hard feelings when the whole time he was disrespecting our family.

“It doesn’t go away just like that.”

Stevenson and Gonzalez were never supposed to fight but Stevenson became the No1 contender and Gonzalez No2 for the vacant title.

Stevenson, who is the second youngest current title holder behind 20-year-old WBC lightweight champ Devin Haney, dominated in almost every aspect, using a stingy defence to slip punches and frustrate Gonzalez.

The Olympic silver medal winner wore Gonzalez down with a steady diet of jabs and hard right hands to the midsection and kidneys.

Gonzalez’s corner told him before the 12th round he needed a knockout to win the fight. But by that time Stevenson was in complete control and Gonzalez was simply lucky to have lasted all 12 rounds without being knocked out.

“It is an amazing feeling,” said Stevenson, adding he hopes to get bigger fights now that he has his first belt.

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