By Keith Idec
NEWARK, N.J. – Shakur Stevenson’s handlers don’t think Josh Warrington would fight their undefeated contender, not even in England.
Warrington was among the 126-pound champions Stevenson called out after obliterating Alberto Guevara on Saturday night at Prudential Center. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark is more than willing to challenge England’s Warrington in his native country, but preliminary discussions for that bout between Stevenson’s promoters at Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and Frank Warren, Warrington’s promoter, haven’t gone very far.
“There wasn’t a lot of interest,” Carl Moretti, Top Rank’s vice president of boxing operations, told BoxingScene.com. “We would discuss it again, and we would go over there, as long as there aren’t [options on Stevenson’s contract], that type of thing. But it’d be a tough deal to make.”
The 22-year-old Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs) is the IBF’s No. 3-ranked challenger for Warrington’s title. The top two spots in the IBF’s top 15 at 126 pounds are vacant.
Warrington won a split decision over Kid Galahad in his last fight, a 12-rounder June 15 in Leeds, England, Warrington’s hometown. The 28-year-old Warrington (29-0, 6 KOs) doesn’t have a fight scheduled, but Moretti doesn’t anticipate the British champion embracing a voluntary defense versus Stevenson.
“Warrington isn’t gonna fight Shakur unless he’s the mandatory,” Moretti said. “That’d be a tough deal to make. We would do it, but it’d be a tough deal to make. We’d go there in a heartbeat.”
Stevenson already is the WBO’s mandatory challenger for its featherweight champion, Oscar Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs). Mexico’s Valdez also is promoted by Top Rank, which should make Valdez-Stevenson easier to put together than Warrington-Stevenson.
Valdez, 28, might move up to 130 pounds, however, rather than making a mandatory defense against Stevenson. If Valdez vacates his title, Stevenson likely would face the next available contender for the WBO’s unclaimed championship in his next fight.
Even Stevenson was disappointed with the level of opposition he encountered in his hometown fight Saturday night. Guevara (27-5, 12 KOs), of El Cajon, California, was a late replacement for Colombia’s Franklin Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KOs), who withdrew two weeks before the fight due to an illness.
“Top Rank, y’all gotta get me better competition,” Stevenson said during his post-fight interview with ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna. “I want the world champions – Oscar Valdez, [Leo] Santa Cruz. I want the world champions. Y’all gotta get me better competition. That guy came in there – he ain’t want no smoke.”
Stevenson then mentioned wanting Warrington next.
“I want the IBF and the WBO [titles],” Stevenson said. “Josh Warrington got the IBF. Oscar Valdez got the WBO. I’m No. 1 in the WBO and I’m No. 3 in the IBF, so I think it’s that time. I would love to go to England to fight Josh Warrington. We can do that in December. Bob Arum, make it happen. Frank Warren, make it happen.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.