The hard-hitting Namibian contender could’ve done so many things differently. By aimlessly following Stevenson around the ring and failing to cut it off, Nakathila made it easier for a defensive-minded Stevenson to carefully out-box him throughout their 12-round, 130-pound WBO interim title fight.
The left-handed Stevenson scored a knockdown during the fourth round. The former WBO featherweight champion won every round on the cards of judges Max De Luca, Lisa Giampa and Dave Moretti, each of whom scored Stevenson a 120-107 winner.
The 32-year-old Nakathila has an opportunity to redeem himself Saturday night, when he’ll battle Miguel Berchelt in a 10-round lightweight bout. Mexico’s Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) is consistently listed as almost a 6-1 favorite in advance of a main event ESPN will air from Resorts World Las Vegas.
Nakathila believes Berchelt will engage with him more than Stevenson was willing to do last June 12 in another ESPN main event at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas.
“I felt like I couldn’t do much,” Nakathila told BoxingScene.com. “You know, Shakur was scared. I could’ve been more aggressive in that fight. Shakur was totally scared. He was just there running and running. You could see fear and he perceived danger in front of him. So, he couldn’t do all what he used to do, normally what he does in the ring.”
Nakathila (22-2, 18 KOs) feels his fight versus Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) completely changed when he landed a right hand late in the sixth round.
“I knew I hurt him,” Nakathila recalled. “Each and every one of my punches can hurt him. Naturally, I’m stronger.”
Nakathila’s criticism notwithstanding, Stevenson’s defense helped him shut out his powerful opponent on the cards.
“I could see he was retreating all the time,” Nakathila said. “I was coming and he was retreating. It was just kind of an awkward fight. He couldn’t do what he wanted to do. And mostly on my side, I couldn’t do what I wanted to do.”
Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, ended Nakathila’s 10-fight winning streak. Nakathila’s only other loss is a 12-round, majority-decision defeat to Evgeny Chuprakov (then 16-0) in November 2016 in Ekaterinburg, Russia, Chuprakov’s hometown.
Four months after his loss to Stevenson, Nakathila knocked out Zimbabwe’s Ndodana Neube (then 7-2) in the second round of a scheduled eight-rounder October 16 in Windhoek, the capital city of Namibia, where Nakathila works as a police officer. That victory helped Nakathila secure this bout with Berchelt, who will fight for the first time since Oscar Valdez dropped him four times and violently knocked him out in the 10th round of their WBC super featherweight championship match in February 2020 at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
“For me, it’s a great opportunity,” Nakathila said. “As a boxer, for me it’s an achievement securing such an opportunity at this level. And I’m ready to go come Saturday night. … It’s a must for me to win this fight. I can’t let this opportunity pass me. After I win this fight, it’ll be a massive career ahead of me.”