Shakur Stevenson is clearly a great boxing talent, and he showed it again on Saturday night, Taking control of Oscar Valdez – even playing with him on occasion – to unite the WBO and WBC Junior Lightweight titles in a wide decision win.
More than just having talent, Stevenson (18-0, 9 KO) has the desire to be seen as great. He wants to think about sterling rolls at the age of 24, and whether you like him or not, he’s at least paid in return. A lot will put it on those lists after last night. He rarely loses a round as a professional, and while the opponent may still be criticized by some, there are some nuances to that and all, he continues to pass every “step up” test brilliantly.
He has won world titles in two divisions. He’s clearly the best in the world at 130lbs right now. So, with Valdez finished and cleaned of dust, what happens next?
Unfortunately for Stevenson, this hunger for a big fight may be unsatisfied at the moment.
The other two lists at number 130 now are Kenichi Ogawa and Roger Gutierrez. Gutierrez is a WBA title holder, and the recent history of a WBA with 130lb belts is a long hateful discussion, but anyway, he’s the only man with a “world title” out there right now. He will have an injunction due against Hector Garcia, but the power brokers may be able to speak through Stevenson against Gutierrez.
The problem is, it’s not a big fight. It’s not a fight anyone really wants to see.
Ogawa would be the better choice of the two. The IBF title holder is a good fighter, can be exciting to watch, and has a record stellar enough to create hype for an ESPN main event.
problem still It’s not a big fight. It’s not a fight anyone really wants to see. There is no demand for Stevenson vs Ogawa. Title standardization always looks great, but it works best when the title holders are seen as being near the same level. Stephenson is seen away from Ogawa and Gutierrez at this point.
Moving to lightweight?
At one point promoter Bob Arum was pitching the idea of Teofimo Lopez against 135-pound Shakur Stevenson by the end of 2022. But that was in 2021, before Lopez had his perfect record and his confidence might have been shattered by designer George Camposos Jr. Lopez is now heading for 140, whenever he fights again.
So what will there be? All four title belts are tied for the June 4 match between Campossos and Devin Haney; The winner of that would be the undisputed champion, and there are no questions about WBC’s status next.
If it was Haney, Stevenson would have to “cross the street”. If it comes to Kambosos, it might be possible, but Kambosos has already said he’d like to give Vasiliy Lomachenko the shot after Haney, after Lomachenko withdrew from negotiations to stay in Ukraine and fight. Kambosos respected Lomachenko’s decision, respecting him as a fighter and a man. If he beats Hani, he obviously would like to fight Lumchenko next.
But Lomachenko himself is an interesting proposal.
Like Stevenson, Lomachenko is in a Tier 1 stable. And Loma was fighting hard as a lightweight, and he only made it to that division because he couldn’t get anyone to fight him in the 130, which is the same reason he went to 130 from 126.
Stevenson “Someone” is 130 years old. Lomachenko might still fare better at 130. Top Rank and ESPN would undoubtedly love to fight that fight, and Stevenson has been talking about it for some time now, too, with great confidence that he’ll beat Vasily.
If Top Rank can put together a better financial offer for Stevenson-Lomachenko than it would be for Camposus-Lomachenko – and there’s a good chance that – it could be more attractive to Loma than fighting Camposos. And it would definitely be a classy choice for Shakur.
Robson Conceicao is also a possibility. The Brazilian lost a controversial decision to Valdes last year, then bounced back to dominate Xavier Martinez in January, a fight that went well under the radar for many but kept Conceicao in the middle as a division contender.
If nothing else, Top Rank can promote it on Olympic proportions for Stephenson, the 2016 silver medalist in bantamweight, and Conceicao, the 2016 gold medalist in lightweight. It would also be a lot easier than doing a few fights, and it’s really no less engaging than Stevenson teaming up with Ogawa or Gutierrez.
If it’s Conceicao, listen up, worse fights have been done for the world title. It won’t be the big fight, but as a way to keep moving forward looking for one, you can sink in a lot.