Would Stevenson still be undefeated in Freitas’ era?

November 15, 2023
8 months

Shakur Stevenson, with his 20-0 record, is one of the most exciting and impressive boxers on the contemporary circuit. Having dominated large sections of the featherweight division, the 26-year-old is now transitioning to lightweight. The question is, however, would he have had the same success if he had shared the era with Acelino Freitas?


Stevenson Delivered on Early Promise

Many young boxers who perform well at the Olympics and amateur ranks are tipped to be the next best thing by boxing new sites and pundits alike. Shakur ‘Sugar’ Stevenson took the silver medal home from the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil and went undefeated while representing the US during the World Series of Boxing.

Unlike all the flops, Shakur delivered on his promise and almost instantly looked at home in the professional game. It only took ten matches for him to win his first championship when he won continental and inter-continental belts. Since making his debut at this level, he’s gone on to win 20 fights without a single loss. There’s still a long road ahead of his fight career as he’s still relatively young, so could he retire undefeated?


Freitas was the Super Featherweight GOAT

Shakur Stevenson might have held the WBO super featherweight title, defended it multiple times, and only lost it due to missing weight, but his record pales in comparison to that of Acelino Freitas. The man from Bahia, Brazil, held the very same title between August 1999 and January 2004, making 11 title defenses in his historic championship reign. His first seven championship matches were incredibly impressive as they all were won by KO or TKO, as he served as the overlord of the division at the time. He also never lost the strap in the ring as he openly vacated it to transition to the lightweight division, much like Stevenson is doing now.


Could Stevenson Learn from Freitas’ Mistake?

The career paths almost run in parallel when comparing Shakur Stevenson and Acelino Freitas. Both men enjoyed lengthy undefeated careers and silverware in the featherweight ranks before converting to the lightweight division.

The Brazilian won his first fight in the division to win the WBO lightweight title and go 35-0 after defeating Artur Grigorian. However, the change in classification would catch up with him. He earned his first loss against Diego Corrales as the taller and more natural lightweight knocked out Freitas in the tenth round.

Stevenson is set to make the same divisional change as he debuts against Dominican boxer Edwin de los Santos with the vacant WBC lightweight championship on the line in November 2023. The tale of the tape suggests that Stevenson and his opponent are closely matched, but it’s a major risk for the American, considering his adversary is a lot more experienced in this division. If he wins, he’ll most certainly make headlines among online boxing news outlets.



How Would the Fight Play Out?

This hypothetical contest would be an interesting clash of styles between two fighters, either at super flyweight or lightweight. Stevenson would most likely have the speed advantage and try to land more shots overall, while Freitas would arguably hit harder with his punches – making a knockout victory likely for him. Stevenson’s southpaw stance might hold some merit over the orthodox Freitas, but in totality, this wouldn’t determine the result of the fight.


Does Stevenson Need More Global Appeal?

Shakur Stevenson is a big name amongst American boxing fans and hardcore followers across the world. The problem is that he’s never fought outside of the United States during his professional career. This has somewhat stunted his ability to break the mainstream. The former WBC lightweight champ, Devin Haney, ensured he was seen by multiple audiences by fighting on cards in both Mexico and Australia, as well as his native US.

Freitas endeared himself to the wider boxing community by fighting in almost every corner of the globe. He fought in his native Brazil, Costa Rica, the United States, France, Uruguay, and multiple northern cities in the UK. As such, he ensured that his name was known to boxing fans all over the world. Stevenson’s career wouldn’t be harmed if he were to fight out of his home country for once.



Could This Fight Have Ever Happened, or Could it Take Place in the Future?

Acelino Freitas retired from professional boxing in 2017, at which point Shakur Stevenson was involved within the amateur ranks. Therefore, it wouldn’t have been impossible for matchmakers to put the two together hypothetically. However, the Brazilian was still a superstar in his home country at this juncture, meaning he’d have little to gain by fighting an American debutant.

After retiring, Freitas spent a lot of time in his backyard as he built a soccer field at his mansion so he could play all the time. In addition, he also served in the Salvador government as a secretary of sports, as well as working with the Brazilian Republican Party.

Since then, the Brazilian boxer has stepped back into the ring for two exhibition boxing matches in 2022. He enjoyed relative success in these comeback bouts as he drew with Brazilian social media superstar Whindersson Nunes and defeated storied MMA fighter Jose Landi-Jons with a first-round knockout, which made trending boxing news in Brazil. While the quality is far below what Stevenson is competing at right now, it does leave the door open for a prospective fight, even if it’s unlikely.

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