Shakur Stevenson expects to fight for the WBO junior lightweight title in his next bout.
The former WBO featherweight champion just doesn’t anticipate getting that opportunity against either of the boxers who will fight that WBO belt Saturday night in Dubai. Stevenson predicted that Jamel Herring will retain his title by beating Carl Frampton in their 12-round, 130-pound championship match, but he thinks Herring will vacate that crown rather than make a mandated defense against him in his subsequent bout.
Stevenson (15-0, 8 KOs), the WBO’s number one contender for Herring’s title, discussed that situation with host Brian Custer during a recent appearance on “The Last Stand Podcast.”
“I think Jamel gonna win,” Stevenson said. “But I think that Jamel is planning to move up to 135, so it’ll be a vacant title anyway.”
Frampton told BoxingScene.com recently that he would welcome a fight versus Stevenson if he can dethrone Herring in the main event of an ESPN+ stream from Caesars Bluewaters Dubai (2 p.m. ET; 11 a.m. PT). If Frampton wins, Stevenson also has informed BoxingScene.com that he would travel to Belfast to face Frampton in the Northern Irishman’s hometown.
But because the 2016 Olympic silver medalist thinks Herring – a taller, skillful southpaw – will defeat Frampton, Stevenson envisions facing the WBO’s highest-rated available contender for an unclaimed championship. Namibia’s Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17 KOs) is the WBO’s second-ranked contender in the junior lightweight division and has repeatedly expressed a willingness to fight Stevenson for the vacant title if Herring gives it up.
If Cincinnati’s Herring (22-2, 10 KOs) defeats Frampton (28-2, 16 KOs) and relinquishes his title, a Stevenson-Nakathila fight could be made for June 12, the tentative date reserved for Stevenson’s return to the ring. A Frampton win Saturday night could change Stevenson’s plan because Frampton would not return that quickly for his mandated title defense if he beats Herring.
Regardless, the 23-year-old Stevenson wants to fight in June.
“I should be pretty active,” Stevenson said. “After June, I wanna come right back, probably get right back in September, as quick as possible. I wanna be active. I don’t wanna just be sittin’ on the sideline, watching. That’s not too fun for me, so I like to say active. … If I can fight three times [this year], I will.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.