Shakur Stevenson is certain Oscar Valdez will realize quite quickly Saturday night that he has never encountered a boxer with Stevenson’s skill set.
Stevenson admitted, though, that he, too, will face an opponent in Valdez that possesses traits that none of his first 17 conquests at the professional level have had.
“I probably agree,” Stevenson stated during a conference call conducted via Zoom on Monday. “You know, definitely probably never been in there with somebody as strong as him and with that type of will. The only person I can think of with the willpower I would say was Joet [Gonzalez], but he didn’t get the chance to even show his willpower because of my skills. So, I can say the same thing. I agree with that. That’s a statement that I can agree with. It don’t matter. Come April 30th, he could do whatever he want. I’m coming in there to do what I always do.”
The 24-year-old Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) dominated Gonzalez (25-2, 15 KOs) throughout their 12-round, 126-pound championship match in October 2019 at Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. The left-handed Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, won 11 of their 12 rounds on each scorecard, 119-109, according to all three judges.
Valdez vacated the WBO featherweight title that Stevenson won that night, rather than making a mandated title defense versus Stevenson. Two years later, Mexico’s Valdez demanded that their promoter, Bob Arum, finally put together the Stevenson fight following Stevenson’s 10th-round stoppage of Jamel Herring (23-3, 11 KOs) on October 23 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Mexico’s Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) is intent to prove Stevenson and others wrong, much like he did when he overwhelmed favored countryman Miguel Berchelt (38-3, 34 KOs) in their February 2021 fight for Berchelt’s WBC 130-pound crown. Valdez dropped Berchelt three times that night and viciously knocked him out with a left hook in the 10th round at MGM Grand Conference Center.
Stevenson still is listed by most sportsbooks as at least a 5-1 favorite to beat the 31-year-old Valdez.
“I’m a dominant fighter,” Stevenson said. “I feel like all my fights are one-sided, so I’m planning on going in there April 30th and doing the same exact thing. So, I don’t know how much better I can get, but I know that I’m not even in my prime yet. So, I can get a lot better than what I am already.”
ESPN will televise Valdez-Stevenson as the main event of a tripleheader scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“I’m ready,” Stevenson said. “I’m in great shape. I’m feeling good. I’m just ready to fight. I feel like a lot of people don’t understand how good I am. And I feel like April 30th is another chance to show them how great I am.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.