Shakur Stevenson wanted nothing more than to walk to the ring as a defending 130-pound champion in his hometown Friday night.
His growing body just wouldn’t cooperate anymore.
The 25-year-old Stevenson came in 1.6 pounds overweight Thursday for his 12-round fight against Robson Conceicao. He was afforded two hours by New Jersey’s State Athletic Control Board to return to its scale at 130 pounds or lower, but Stevenson conceded that he couldn’t shed the additional weight and relinquished his WBC super featherweight and WBO junior lightweight titles.
Stevenson confirmed in a Tweet soon after Thursday’s weigh-in that he will move up to the lightweight limit of 135 pounds for his next fight.
“I gave it my all,” Stevenson stated in his Tweet. “I’ve been a professional my whole career and made weight, but my body just can’t make 130 anymore. My health has to come first. I’m moving up to 135 in my next fight.”
The 135-pound division could provide several fascinating fights for Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), most notably showdowns with undefeated, undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney, unbeaten WBA secondary champ Gervonta Davis and former WBA/WBC/WBO champ Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Brazil’s Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs) came in at 129.6 pounds Thursday. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist thus can win the WBC and WBO belts his opponent surrendered if he upsets Stevenson in a main event ESPN will televise from Prudential Center in Stevenson’s native Newark, New Jersey (10 p.m. ET).
Stevenson went 5-0 in fights at the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds since June 2020. His successful run as a 130-pounder included dominant performances against champions Jamel Herring (WBO), whom Stevenson stopped in the 10th round last October 23 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, and Oscar Valdez (WBC).
The left-handed Stevenson dropped Mexico’s Valdez (30-1, 23 KOs) in the sixth round and thoroughly outboxed him to become a unified champion April 30 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Stevenson previously owned the WBO featherweight title, but he moved up to the junior lightweight division without defending that 126-pound crown.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.