By Keith Idec

NEWARK, N.J. – Shakur Stevenson hopes his homecoming next month is the first of many fights for him in the downtown arena where he grew up.

Ideally, Stevenson would like to return to Prudential Center next year to defend a world featherweight title. The skilled southpaw expects to fight for a 126-pound championship later this year or early in 2020.

The 21-year-old Stevenson told on Monday that he’d prefer facing WBO featherweight champ Oscar Valdez. Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs), the WBO’s No. 1 contender for Valdez’s title, first must defeat Miami’s Hairon Socarras (22-0-3, 14 KOs) in a 10-round main event ESPN will air July 13 from Prudential Center in Newark.

The 2016 Olympic silver medalist believes Valdez will move up to 130 pounds, though, which Stevenson thinks will lead to him fighting Carl Frampton for the vacant WBO belt.

“I heard Valdez is gonna move up,” Stevenson said, “and probably me and Frampton could square off. I’m fine with that.”

Mexico’s Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) acknowledged before his unanimous-decision victory over Jason Sanchez (14-1, 7 KOs) on Saturday night in Reno, Nevada, that making the featherweight limit of 126 pounds has become more problematic in recent years.

“I ain’t saying nobody gonna duck me,” Stevenson said. “I ain’t gonna do all that, but he gonna move up and Frampton gonna fight me.”

Northern Ireland’s Frampton is now co-promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., Stevenson’s promoter. The 32-year-old former featherweight and super bantamweight champion lost his last fight, a 12-round unanimous decision to England’s Josh Warrington (28-0, 6 KOs) on December 22 in Manchester, England.

Frampton (26-2, 15 KOs), who’s ranked No. 4 by the WBO, is expected to return to the ring late this summer against an undetermined opponent.

“If I was him, I wouldn’t get in the ring with me at all,” Stevenson said of Frampton. “No disrespect to him. He was a great fighter when he had his moment. But his moment over now, and he’s a small featherweight. I wouldn’t get in the ring with me at all.”

Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.