After a mostly quiet and uneventful fight week, celebrated individuals from the wider boxing fraternity arrived in Las Vegas for Shakur Stevenson’s fight with Edwin de los Santos.
Stevenson, with some justification, is increasingly being spoken of as the fighter of the coming era, so it was fitting that present at Wednesday’s weigh-in were Terence Crawford, the world’s finest active fighter, and the retired Andre Ward, another all-time great.
Also at the T-Mobile Arena was Jared Anderson, who it is to be hoped will prove the heavyweight of the coming era, and who outside of Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk may even be the only remaining active heavyweight not featuring on the December 23 bill in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, that was officially announced in London shortly before Stevenson and De Los Santos weighed in.
Anderson, curiously, was wearing blacked-out sunglasses in a room that already had no natural sunlight. He was also wearing a lengthy, baby blue Versace gown, not unlike those Fury and Frank Warren wore for a live television appearance in the days before Fury fought in Vegas for the first time, when in 2019 he stopped Tom Schwarz.
Perhaps most striking was Crawford, who while wearing a Team Stevenson tracksuit moved with an air of confidence and contentment to a degree not seen before July’s stoppage of Errol Spence. ProBox TV last encountered him before his fight in 2019 with Amir Khan, when he still spoke with a chip on his shoulder. Approaching five years later – in 2019 he was vying with Vasyl Lomachenko to be considered the world’s finest fighter, and had already become the undisputed champion at 140lbs – in also becoming the undisputed champion at 147lbs and moving ahead of Naoya Inoue and Usyk in the most accurate pound-for-pound rankings he seems sufficiently secure and satisfied that retirement may even come relatively soon.
When discussing Stevenson’s great future, Crawford spoke of himself as at the “tail end” of his career. When engaged in a good-humoured debate with Evan Korn, an influential figure at Top Rank, about the fighter of the year, he insisted that his victory over Spence meant that he deserved that recognition, cheerfully dismissed Korn’s suggestions that it might be Inoue by saying “[Inoue’s opponent Nonito] Donaire’s older than me – y’all be biased sometimes”, and then instead that, after he, Stevenson is the finest fighter in the world. Even more certain is that the growing Crawford looks on the cusp of outgrowing his present weight division.
Rumour has it that sales to see, potentially, the second finest fighter in the world have been sufficiently underwhelming that 1,800 tickets are being gifted to military veterans. A reminder of why existed around the corner from the T-Mobile Arena shortly after the weigh-in concluded; a lengthy line existed at the meet and greet with Williams Racing driver Luke Sargent, the only American driver in the coming weekend’s Formula One grand prix.
“We were requested by [broadcaster] ESPN, which is televising the Formula One [grand prix in Vegas] to do a fight in Formula One week,” the promoter of Stevenson-De Los Santos, Bob Arum, told ProBox TV. “‘Cause they’ll have all of their advertisers here and so forth. On the Thursday.
“I believe we’re going similarly when they do the Super Bowl here, which is on a Sunday – we’re going to do a fight show on the Thursday before it, which is the beginning of February.
“I don’t know if we’d have avoided this week but we certainly wouldn’t do the Thursday night [without ESPN making that request]. It’s very hard on the gate.”