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Stevenson beats Nakathila to claim WBO jr. lightweight belt

Former WBO featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson unanimously outpointed Jeremiah Nakathila to take the vacant WBO interim junior lightweight title.

In what was billed as a battle of the organization’s top two contenders, Nakathila looked anything but a top contender, with the 23-year-old Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) dominating from the outset in his third bout at 130 pounds.

Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, won by identical scores of 120-107 from all three judges while pound-for-pound great Terrence Crawford watched from just behind his prodigy’s corner. Crawford helped Stevenson prepare for the fight with sparring sessions during his training camp.

Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, left, fights Shakur Stevenson in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Nakathila (21-2, 17 KOs), who struggled to land punches the entire fight, missing with big, looping right hooks, lost for just the second time in his career.

Though Stevenson has made it crystal clear he wants a shot at WBC champion Oscar Valdez, but likely has a date with WBO titlist Jamel Herring later this year.

In the co-featured main event, two-weight world champion Jose Pedraza (28-3) won by TKO after the eighth round, when Julian Rodriguez’s (21-1) cornermen told referee Kenny Bayless their fighter couldn’t continue with his left eye closed.

Shakur Stevenson, left, and Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, embrace after Stevenson won thier WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

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Shakur Stevenson holds up the belt after defeating Jeremiah Nakathila in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Shakur Stevenson hits Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Shakur Stevenson hits Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Shakur Stevenson hits Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)

Jeremiah Nakathila, of Namibia, hits Shakur Stevenson in a WBO interim junior lightweight title fight Saturday, June 12, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP PhotoJohn Locher)