Given a showcase bout to welcome televised boxing back to the United States, unbeaten Shakur Stevenson made sure to put on a show. Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs), the WBO featherweight champion, moved up to 130 pounds to stop heavy underdog Felix Caraballo via sixth-round TKO in a non-title main event of a Top Rank card from Las Vegas. The five-fight show took place inside an empty MGM Grand Convention Center as a precaution during the coronavirus pandemic.
A 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, Stevenson lived up to his billing as one of boxing's rising stars who draws comparisons to a young Floyd Mayweather. The 22-year-old southpaw dominated the 33-year-old Caraballo (13-2-2, 9 KOs) from start to finish, scoring knockdowns via body shot in the first round and a second in Round 6 via left uppercut downstairs which forced referee Tony Weeks to wave the fight off at 1:31 without a count.
"He opened up wide and I caught him between his punch, caught him right in the middle of the shot," Stevenson said. "I came here to get him out of there. I hit him with everything I could early. I wobbled him a bunch of times. He took a lot of punishment and I started wondering whether the head shots weren't going to get him out of there so I started going to the body."
Stevenson was originally scheduled to defend his 126-pound title against Miguel Marriagua at New York's Madison Square Garden in March, but the fight was called off one day prior just as the COVID-19 quarantine took shape. Although he was matched much softer on Tuesday following an unusual training camp given the circumstances, Stevenson was near perfect save for injuring his left hand in Round 5 -- the same hand he finished Caraballo with one round later.
"It's a different atmosphere. Losing the weight was different, training was different," Stevenson said. "I couldn't be around nobody and even fighting without a crowd where you catch him with a shot and don't hear oohs and ahhs is different."
Not only was Stevenson's speed a major problem for his rugged, unheralded opponent who was fighting outside of his native Puerto Rico for the first time, Stevenson did well in his 130-pound debut to avoid being taken advantage of in the clinch by out-grappling Caraballo and finding success with combinations inside.
Although the Mayweather comparisons flatter him, Stevenson has been far more focused on paving his own path toward potential greatness.
"Floyd and I are two different fighters. I feel like we have two different styles," Stevenson said. "I stole things from his game, but I stole things from Terence Crawford, Pernell Whitaker and Andre Ward. I appreciate all of the comparisons and it's a huge compliment, but I'm my own fighter. I'm the first Shakur Stevenson."
The mentions of Mayweather have largely come from Stevenson's promoter, Hall of Famer Bob Arum of Top Rank, who helped both fighters transition from Olympians to professional champions in short time.
"What a magnificent performance by Shakur Stevenson," Arum said. "He keeps on getting better, and rest assured, he is a future pound-for-pound superstar."
Stevenson was so dominant, he outlanded Caraballo by a margin of 121 to 18, according to CompuBox. What's even crazier? All but six of Stevenson's landed punches were power shots, which he connected on more than 50 percent.
Named after the late rapper, actor and activist Tupac Shakur, the southpaw Stevenson proudly wore a Black Lives Matter T-shirt during his post-fight interview and seemed to embrace the power of his public platform.
"Our people right now, they are protesting and there is a lot going on in my community," Stevenson said. "A lot of people are trying to stand up for what's right. I couldn't really go out there and protest with them because I had a fight coming up, but now that the fight is over, I can go out there and protest and show love to my people and lift them up."
CBS Sports was with you the entire way on Tuesday bringing you all the results and highlights from the Top Rank card in Las Vegas as boxing made its televised return. You can view those results and highlights below.
Stevenson vs. Caraballo card, results
Shakur Stevenson def. Felix Caraballo via sixth-round TKO
Jared Anderson def. Johnnie Langston via third-round TKO
Guido Vianello def. Donald Haynesworth via first-round TKO
Quatavious Cash def. Calvin Metcalf via unanimous technical decision (60-54, 60-55, 59-55)
Robeisy Ramirez def. Yeuri Andujar via first-round TKO
Stevenson vs. Caraballo scorecard, live coverage
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