Opposing business interests could prevent Shakur Stevenson and Isaac Cruz from fighting at any point in the near future.
Those two lightweight contenders are represented by competing promoters and appear on different networks, but that didn’t stop the WBC from ordering a final elimination match Wednesday between Stevenson and Cruz. Mauricio Sulaiman, president of the WBC, announced during the sanctioning organization’s convention in Acapulco, Mexico that Stevenson and Cruz must fight next if they want a chance to become the WBC’s mandatory challenger in the 135-pound division.
The 24-year-old Cruz is the WBC’s second-ranked contender for boxing’s undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KOs), whom Sulaiman confirmed is expected to defend his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO belts against former champ Vasiliy Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs) in his next fight.
Mexico City’s Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs) knocked out countryman Eduardo Ramirez (27-3-3, 12 KOs) in the second round of his most recent action, which was scheduled as a 12-round WBC elimination match September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
The 25-year-old Stevenson, a former featherweight and junior lightweight champion, is listed fourth in the WBC’s most recent rankings at lightweight. Stevenson figures to move up to the third spot when its next ratings are released because Australia’s George Kambosos Jr. (20-2, 10 KOs), the former champion, lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Haney in their immediate rematch October 16 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
The left-handed Stevenson relinquished his WBC and WBO 130-pound championships when he couldn’t make weight the day before his last fight.
Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) came in 1½ pounds overweight September 22 and announced he would move up to the lightweight division. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist beat Brazilian contender Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) by unanimous decision the next night at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, Stevenson’s hometown.
Like Haney and Lomachenko, Stevenson is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc.
Haney’s next fight, which presumably will come against Ukraine’s Lomachenko, will mark the end of Haney’s three-fight agreement with Top Rank. It is unclear whether Haney, win or lose against Lomachenko, will remain in the lightweight division thereafter because it has become increasingly difficult for the 24-year-old Haney to make its 135-pound limit.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.