NEWARK, New Jersey – Becoming boxing’s fully unified 130-pound champion remains a goal for Shakur Stevenson.
If the business doesn’t align for the undefeated southpaw to land the two title unification fights Stevenson needs to win to reign as his division’s undisputed champion, however, he could move up to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds after he boxes Robson Conceicao. Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) is scheduled to defend his WBC and WBO 130-pound championships against Conceicao on September 23 at Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark.
Battling Brazil’s Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs) in a 12-round main event ESPN will broadcast could mark the 25-year-old champion’s sixth and final fight at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds.
“We gotta see,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com before a recent press conference at Prudential Center. “It’s all up in the air right now. It’s all depending on how I’m feeling. Going up to 135 is not out the way and staying at 130 is not out the way. It’s all depending on what I feel and how I feel after this fight. So, we’re gonna see. Maybe I’ll go up to 135 for one fight, and then come back down to 130. You never know. I can play with it like that. I feel like I’m that good.”
The two-division champion continues to make 130 pounds reasonably comfortably, but the 5-foot-7 Stevenson envisions eventually fighting at welterweight. The 2016 Olympic silver medalist made his pro debut in the featherweight division five years ago, yet it isn’t uncommon for fighters to jump several weight classes over the course of their careers.
Stevenson expressed a strong desire to fully unify the sport’s 130-pound championships in the immediate aftermath of his dominant victory over former WBC super featherweight champ Oscar Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) on April 30 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
His promoter, Bob Arum, was demonstratively dismissive of expensive fights against low-profile 130-pound champions. There nevertheless were discussions among executives for Arum’s company, Top Rank Inc., and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions regarding a Stevenson-Roger Gutierrez bout, but the six-week postponement of Gutierrez’s fight against Hector Luis Garcia made it impossible for Stevenson to fight Venezuela’s Gutierrez on September 23 had he beaten the Dominican Republic’s Garcia on July 10 in Caracas, Venezuela.
Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20 KOs) will defend his WBA belt against Garcia (15-0, 10 KOs) in a 12-round fight Showtime will televise as part of the Adrien Broner-Omar Figueroa Jr. undercard August 20 from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
BoxingScene.com has been informed that Top Rank will attempt to put together a bout between Stevenson, assuming he beats Conceicao, and the Gutierrez-Garcia winner. Garcia is affiliated with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions.
Wales’ Joe Cordina holds boxing’s other recognized 130-pound championship. Eddie Hearn’s company, Matchroom Boxing, promotes Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs), who won the IBF junior lightweight title by knocking out Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa (26-2-1, 18 KOs, 1 NC) in the second round June 4 at Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff, Wales.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.