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Shakur Stevenson Headed For Hometown Defense

Shakur Stevenson Headed For Hometown Defense
Mikey Williams/Top Rank

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Shakur Stevenson Headed For Hometown Defense

Shakur Stevenson, whose Twitter bio reads “NEWARK MADE,” will return home for his first fight there since a nontitle bout in 2019.

Stevenson will defend his WBC/WBO junior lightweight title against Robson Conceicao on Sept. 23 in the main event of a Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card at the Prudential Center.

The fight will be Stevenson’s second 130-pound title defense and first since his routed Oscar Valdez in a title unification fight on April 30 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Conceicao (17-1, 8 KOs), 33, is coming off a near-shutout 10-round decision over then-undefeated Xavier Martinez on Jan. 29 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In his previous bout, Conceicao, a three-time Brazilian Olympian and 2016 gold medalist in Rio de Janeiro, lost a disputed decision challenging Valdez for the WBC title in September 2021.

Although Top Rank has not yet announced Stevenson-Conceicao, that did not stop Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs), who turned 25 on Tuesday, from doing so on social media.

“Robson is a solid fighter,” Stevenson wrote. “He’s (an) Olympic gold medalist and arguably beat Valdez before me, so he deserve a shot at these belts before anyone. Oh yeah u other fighters try fighting each other and win. It’ll get more eyes on u and put u in position to face the champ.”

Stevenson, a southpaw, is a former featherweight titlist and a 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist. He won the WBO junior lightweight belt in October in a one-sided 10th-round knockout of Jamel Herring.

Stevenson has become a drawing card for Top Rank/ESPN and the Valdez fight demonstrated his potential to draw in fight fans.

Showbuzz Daily had the U.S. cable television rating numbers for the Stevenson April 30th win, which showed the Top Rank broadcast on ESPN had just over a million viewers. And, it was the second most watched sporting event of the day trailing only the final day coverage of the NFL Draft, earlier on ESPN.

The actual number of 1.16 million viewers outdid the likes of the UFC prelim show for their PPV (830,000 viewers), which was the lead-in for the Top Rank Card from the MGM Grand Garden Arena shown on the same Network.

It should be noted that those numbers don’t reflect “out of home” viewing at another location like sports bar or those that may have streamed the fight through ESPN’s streaming services. And, that could easily bump the full audience aggregate number up to over 1.5 million viewers.

And, the final point is: it shows Stevenson definitely has some marketability for future fights, whether they’re on ESPN or perhaps headed to ESPN+ PPV.

Since 2000, award-winning reporter Dan Rafael has covered boxing full time and been ringside for thousands of fights, first for five years at USA Today and then for 15 years at ESPN, where he wrote and appeared on various television, radio and streaming programs. In 2013, Dan was honored by the Boxing Writers Association of America with the Nat Fleischer award for career excellence in boxing journalism. Dan brings his great insight to the Big Fight Weekend site, podcast and more!

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