GLENDALE, Arizona – Shakur Stevenson will challenge for—and likely win—a third divisional title in his next fight.
It is highly unlikely, however, that it will come versus the type of high-profile opponent he’s sought since moving up in weight.
Appealing options to face undisputed lightweight champion Devin Haney or former three-division titlist Vasiliy Lomachenko are no longer on the table for Stevenson, who will instead next fight for the vacant WBC lightweight title. The 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and former WBO featherweight and WBC/WBO junior lightweight champion will likely headline a November 16 ESPN show in Las Vegas, though less certain is who will be in the opposite corner.
“We’ll have to see what the [WBC] decides,” Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, whose Top Rank co-promotes Stevenson, told BoxingScene.com. “They’ll have to go down the rankings and see who’s available.”
Stevenson (20-0, 10KOs) spent the past several months targeting fights with both the winner and loser of the terrific May 20 Haney-Lomachenko championship clash at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Haney prevailed via unanimous decision and exchanged words with Stevenson afterward before he made his way to the dressing room. Stevenson seemed more intent on next facing Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-3, 11KOs), as he believed Haney would vacate at least one title to instead challenge WBC junior welterweight titlist Regis Prograis (29-1, 24KOs).
The latter option was taken off the table once it was learned that Lomachenko Is likely done for the year.
“We believe he will come back sometime early in 2024,” Arum explained. “He’s rated very highly by all four (sanctioning body) organizations. He’ll fight for a title eventually, just not versus Shakur Stevenson who is going to fight later this year.”
There existed a brief window where Haney expressed interest in honoring his mandatory title defense obligation. The sincerity behind his offer for Stevenson to fight for 25-percent of the pot, however, was called into question.
“I don’t think Haney was particularly anxious to fight Shakur,” Arum said in a separate interview with Fight Hub TV founder Marcos Villegas. “It was a fight that Shakur was going to win. Haney is better off fighting at 140. It’s too difficult for him to make the 135-pound limit.”
Mexico City’s Isaac Cruz (25-2-1, 17KOs) and Frank Martin (18-0, 12KOs) are ranked directly below Stevenson in the most recent WBC lightweight ratings. Cruz is represented by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions and Martin is promoted by Errol Spence’s Man Down Promotions. Both primarily fight under the Premier Boxing Champions banner and are coming off separate wins in July.
Stevenson became the WBC mandatory challenger after a sixth-round knockout of unbeaten Shuichiro Yoshino in their April 8 title eliminator in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox