Shakur Stevenson has yet to formally step foot inside the ring as a 135-pounder, but the southpaw ace is already tired of the division’s politics.
The two-division titlist from Newark, New Jersey, was hoping to engage either Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz or William Zepeda for his debut at 135, but both fighters, according to Stevenson, rebuffed his offer. Now, Stevenson thinks he could be headed for a fight with the division’s former unified champion, George Kambosos Jr., who is ranked No. 5 with the WBC. Stevenson is ranked No. 3, while Cruz is No. 2 and Zepeda No. 4. The sanctioning body’s top ranked fighter is Vasiliy Lomachenko, who will engage the division’s undisputed champion Devin Haney next spring.
“It may be Kambosos, because Pitbull turned me down and Zepeda turned me down,” Stevenson said of his next opponent in a recent interview with FightHubTV. “I know from the rankings that Kambosos is next, so I think it will be Kambosos, probably.”
Kambosos is coming off two straight unanimous decision defeats at the hands of Haney. Kambosos became the unified lightweight champion after he upset Teofimo Lopez to win the WBO, WBA, and IBF 135-pound titles. He lost them to Haney, who held the WBC belt, in their first fight in June in Melbourne.
Stevenson said he expects to return to the ring in the spring, sometime in March or April.
Stevenson was required to relinquish his WBC, WBO 130-pound titles for failing to make weight ahead of his fight with Robson Conceicao in September. The inability to safely make weight convinced Stevenson he needed to move up to 135. Stevenson handily defeated Conceicao by unanimous decision.
But Stevenson has been disappointed with the way some of his peers at his new weight class seem to be shying away from a challenge, accusing the likes of Cruz and Zepeda of “ducking” him. Both Cruz and Zepeda, moreover, are aligned with different promoters, making those fights unrealistic for Stevenson, who is promoted by Top Rank. Cruz is backed by Premier Boxing Champions and Zepeda by Golden Boy Promotions.
Stevenson thinks the actions of Cruz and Zepeda are indicative of a larger, endemic problem in boxing.
“I think it’s sad,” Stevenson said. “I think boxing is in a sad state, when fighters can just duck and get away with it. I think that the fans and everybody allowed them to duck. Nobody really got on top of them the way that if I was to do something like that, or Devin, or let’s say anybody you know in the sport—If they do that they (the fans) gonna hop on they ass, so honestly I feel like boxing is just getting said that they allow fighters to duck like that.”
“I don’t know what boxing got going on,” Stevenson added. “It’s not good. I think people should challenge, test themselves out [against those who are] good.”