Super featherweight champions Oscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson are in negotiations to headline a fight for April 30th, a two-title unification at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on ESPN.
They still haven’t agreed to a deal, but they’re close to getting it made, according to Dan Rafael. For Stevenson, 24, he’s excited about the fight because he’s been avoided by the big names at 126 and 130 until now.
Fans hoped to see Vasily Lomachenko return to the 130-lb division to challenge Stevenson for his old WBO title, which he held before moving up to the 135-lb division in 2018.
It’s a good fight involving two of the best fighters in the super featherweight division in 2016 Olympian Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) and the 2012 & 2016 Olympian Valdez.
Both fighters are with Top Rank, which is arguably why the fight is happening. Unfortunately, if not for that, we probably wouldn’t be seeing this fight.
A fight years in the making 😲
— ESPN Ringside (@ESPNRingside) January 16, 2022
The winner of the Valdez vs. Stevenson fight will hold the WBC & WBO titles and be in an excellent position to set up another unification fight.
Shakur will likely be the favorite to win this fight, as he’s looked better recently. In Stevenson’s last fight in October, he stopped WBO 130-lb champion Jamel ‘Semper Fi’ Herring in the tenth round to capture his title in Atlanta.
“Shakur, I think the fight for him is against Valdez. I’d love to get that fight done,” Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said to World Boxing News. “That’s what we’re looking to do, yeah. I think before the end of April.”
“Other people in the company are doing the negotiations and I don’t think there will be any roadblocks,” said Arum on the Valdez vs. Stevenson fight.
“Navarrete, there are a lot of guys he could fight but we’ll figure it out,” Arum said. “He can fight the winner (of Valdez-Stevenson).”
In contrast, Valdez, 31, is coming off a questionable 12 round unanimous decision win over Robson Conceicao on September 10th in the first defense of his WBC super featherweight title at the Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Arizona.
That was a fight that Valdez arguably should have lost, but he got what many boxing fans saw as favorable scoring from the judge. Shockingly, one judge had Valdez winning by a lopsided 117-110 score.
The way Shakur Stevenson looked in his win over Jamel Herring last October, it’s going to be difficult for Valdez to beat him. But with that said, Valdez does possess superior power and offensive skills than Stevenson.
If Valdez can drag Shakur into a dog fight, he’s got a chance of winning, but it’s not going to be easy. Stevenson is a defensive artist who is almost impossible to hit.
Y’all snitching 😕 https://t.co/ewhldQJ9hP
— Shakur Stevenson (@ShakurStevenson) January 16, 2022
On the flipside, Stevenson’s emphasis on his defense and not getting hit makes him boring to watch. He’s like a Guillermo Rigondeaux type of fighter, but without the big left-hand and right hook that the Cuban fighter possesses.
Interestingly, Shakur’s promoter Bob Arum hasn’t openly criticized his dull fights the way he’s done in the past with Rigondeaux.
You can argue that Stevenson’s style is almost identical to Rigondeaux’s, which could haunt him later down the road if he finds himself getting avoided.