ATLANTIC CITY – Assuming Shakur Stevenson beats Miguel Marriaga on March 14, Bob Arum expects Stevenson to travel to England to face Josh Warrington in his following fight.
Stevenson’s promoter told BoxingScene.com that Stevenson and Warrington are likely to meet in a featherweight title unification fight sometime in May or June. The date of their fight is dependent upon the availability of Elland Road, the outdoor soccer stadium where Stevenson and Warrington would meet in Warrington’s hometown of Leeds, England.
Stevenson, who won the WBO 126-pound championship October 26, must defeat Marriaga in his first title defense to secure a more meaningful fight with Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs). The Stevenson-Marriaga match will headline a show ESPN will televise March 14 from The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, not far from Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
“The kid didn’t wanna wait until May or June [to fight],” Arum said, referring to Stevenson. “So, what we’re doing is having him fight on March 14th. And then, all things being good, we’ll do [the Stevenson-Warrington] fight a little later, in May or June. It’s up to Frank [Warren, Warrington’s promoter], when he can get the building.”
The card headlined by Stevenson-Marriaga will be the first of two Top Rank shows in four nights in The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) will be the main attraction of a St. Patrick’s Day card the night of March 17. Conlan’s opponent for that featherweight fight hasn’t been chosen.
If the 22-year-old Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) overcomes Colombia’s Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs), fighting Warrington would afford Stevenson an opportunity to add another featherweight title to his resume before he moves up to the 130-pound division. Warrington owns the IBF 126-pound crown, which he has defended three times.
Eleven of Warrington’s past 13 fights have been held in Leeds. He beat Wales’ Lee Selby by 12-round split decision to win the IBF featherweight title in May 2018 at Elland Road.
In his most recent fight, Warrington stopped France’s Sofiane Takoucht (35-4-1, 13 KOs) in the second round October 12 at First Direct Arena in Leeds.
Two weeks later, Stevenson decisively defeated California’s Joet Gonzalez (23-1, 14 KOs) on points to win the then-vacant WBO featherweight title at Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.