LAS VEGAS – Shakur Stevenson couldn’t have been more pleased both with his view from ringside and the outcome in the junior lightweight title fight which had his undivided attention.
The former featherweight titlist and now top-rated 130-pound contender watched with pride as Oscar Valdez floored Miguel Berchelt three times in an emphatic 10th round knockout win Saturday evening at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Valdez scored three knockdowns on the bout, including a perfectly timed left hook to render Berchelt unconscious as he pitched face-first to the canvas.
“It was a beautiful performance,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I felt like he did what he was supposed to do. He outboxed him, then beat him up.
“He surprised me, he put on a masterclass performance.”
The win opens up things in the junior lightweight division, whose titles have remained splintered for more than 15 years. That part might not change anytime soon, although there exists the opportunity to deliver marquee matchups. Newark’s Stevenson (15-0, 8KOs) abandoned his WBO featherweight title reign with the intention of competing for the sanctioning body’s 130-pound title by his next fight. It would require his having to wait out the oft-delayed matchup between defending WBO junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring (22-2, 10KOs) and former two-division champ Carl Frampton (28-2, 16KOs), which was once again postponed by at least one month.
Meanwhile, Stevenson is also the number-one contender to the WBC title recently claimed by Valdez, leaving the two in a familiar situation. Stevenson was the mandatory challenger for the WBO featherweight belt which Valdez vacated after three years in the summer of 2019. Stevenson claimed the belt with a 12-round shutout of unbeaten Joet Gonazalez in Oct. 2019, though giving up the belt last summer without a single title defense as he quickly outgrew the division.
Two wins have since followed for Stevenson—a 6th round knockout of Felix Caraballo last June and a 10-round shutout of Toka Kahn Clary last December, both at this very venue. With the 23-year old once again aligned with a title currently owned by Valdez, it seems destined for the pair to finally collide.
Their shared promoter emphatically agrees.
“Valdez-Shakur is a huge… a monster fight,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum told BoxingScene.com. “As soon as the fight was over, Shakur raced over to me and said, “That’s who I want next!” So, we will talk to both (of their teams) and figure out a way to make this terrific championship fight.”
It’s unclear whether a similar discussion takes place had Berchelt prevailed. The 29-year old from Cancun was open in his recent struggles to squeeze down to 130, having replenished all the way to 146.2 pounds by fight night. Given that, Valdez coming out on top perhaps plays better for the division in the long run.
“Definitely, yeah,” agrees Stevenson, who plans to return in May. “He’s the bigger name. I’ve been waiting for this fight for the longest. Now it’s time to deliver this fight. If not this time, my next one needs to be with Valdez for the title.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox