LAS VEGAS – Full title unification in the 130-pound division isn’t nearly as important to Bob Arum as it is to Shakur Stevenson.
Stevenson’s 90-year-old promoter adamantly dismissed the possibility of Stevenson fighting WBA champ Roger Gutierrez or IBF champ Kenichi Ogawa next during a post-fight interview with BoxingScene.com on Saturday night at MGM Grand. Arum seemed open to Stevenson defending his WBC super featherweight and WBO junior lightweight titles in his next bout, but he wants the talented southpaw to face opponents with more commercial appeal.
“F--- being the unified champion,” Arum exclaimed after the unbeaten Stevenson easily conquered Oscar Valdez at MGM Grand Garden Arena. “Screw that! There’s not a person in this room that knows the WBA champion or the IBF champion. So, who wants to put those fights on? They’re not gonna draw sh!t!”
Venezuela’s Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) is represented by Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, with which Top Rank has done plenty of business in recent years. Japan’s Ogawa (26-1-1, 18 KOs, 1 NC) is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, another company with which Top Rank has partnered on events.
Arum can keep Stevenson’s next title fight in house, however, by matching the Newark, New Jersey native against Brazil’s Robson Conceicao, who also is promoted by Top Rank.
Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs) won the lightweight gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the same year Stevenson settled for a silver medal in the bantamweight division. The 33-year-old Conceicao also is the second-ranked contender for Stevenson’s WBC and WBO belts.
Two fights ago, Conceicao gave Valdez trouble in the 12-round title bout before the former WBC champion lost to Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs). Mexico’s Valdez defeated Conceicao by unanimous decision, but Conceicao won five rounds apiece on two scorecards in Tucson, Arizona (115-112, 115-112, 117-110).
“Shakur can defend titles against other fighters at 130,” Arum said. “There’s a lot of good fighters that he can fight [at 130], not the [jabronis] that are champions of the WBA and the IBF.”
Whoever Stevenson fights next, Arum doesn’t envision another 130-pound opponent beating the two-division champion, not after watching him dominate the previously unbeaten Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs).
“I thought he was terrific,” Arum said. “Valdez is a tough, tough fighter, a tough out, but Shakur is special. Shakur is special.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.