In a perfect world, Shakur Stevenson envisions his debut at 130 pounds to resemble the first title fight he sought as a featherweight.
With the boxing world at a standstill in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, any hopes of the still growing 22-year old fighting again at 126 pounds is all but gone. The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and current undefeated featherweight titlist from Newark, Jersey was due to make a voluntary title defense versus Colombia’s Miguel Marriaga. Their planned ESPN headliner was to take place March 14 at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York City, only to get shut down two days before fight night.
The intention was to defend his belt and then hopefully meet fellow unbeaten titlist Josh Warrington (30-0, 7KOs) in a lucrative showdown. Instead, the more likely scenario whenever boxing resumes is a move up in weight.
“I would make (a fight with Warrington) my last fight at 126, if I had the opportunity. But I don’t got the opportunity,” Stevenson (13-0, 7KOs) confirmed in a recent interview with Top Rank’s Crystina Poncher. “So, I want to go up to 130. We can still do the Marriaga fight. That can be my first fight at 130.
“He fought at 130 before. That wouldn’t be a problem for me. I don’t know how he would feel about it because it’s not gonna be a title on the line.”
A move up in weight would likely result in Stevenson having to abandon the featherweight belt he claimed in a 12-round win over Joet Gonzalez in their vacant title fight between unbeaten contenders last October. The matchup came about after Oscar Valdez gave up the crown to move up to 130 in lieu of making a mandatory title defense versus Stevenson.
Current plans call for Valdez (27-0, 21KOs)—Mexico-raised but who now lives and trains out of Southern California—to next face long-reigning 130-pound titlist Miguel Berchelt whenever boxing resumes. His debut at the weight was near-disastrous, suffering an early knockdown versus Adam Lopez and trailing on two scorecards at the time he was able to put away the 11th hour replacement opponent in seven rounds last November.
The fight hardly showed Valdez being ready for arguably the best 130-pound fighter in the world today, to which Stevenson has a solution.
“Me and him can fight,” Stevenson insists. “Me and Oscar kind of got some unfinished business. I was his mandatory. I was supposed to fight for the belt that he vacated. He vacated it but I was his mandatory. So now they’re talking about he’s gonna fight (Miguel) Berchelt.
“I don’t really think he fought anybody to justify that he goes straight to Berchelt. So why not fight Shakur and the winner fight Berchelt.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox