After a few weeks of speculation, it looks like Top Rank Boxing has settled on its first prominent fight to headline a card, since the Covid-19 pandemic shutdown of the sport. And, it will be a World title fight.
Boxing Insider, Mike Coppinger, of the Athletic reported on Wednesday afternoon that WBO featherweight Champion Shakur Stevenson will make the defense of his 126 lb. title against Contender Rafael Rivera coming June 9th:
Sources tell The Athletic a fight between Shakur Stevenson and Rafael Rivera is in the process of being finalized for June 9 in Las Vegas on ESPN in what will mark the return of boxing in the U.S. https://t.co/4Lw4f1kfO9
— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) May 13, 2020
Coppinger further reported that the fight will be held in Las Vegas, which falls in line with what legendary promoter Bob Arum has continually theorized would make the most sense in holding fights where they are familiar and comfortable with the Nevada Commission, venues, medical personnel, etc.
The unbeaten 22 year old Stevenson is 13-0 7 KOs, and was a heralded amateur winning a Silver Medal in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics. He will be making the first defense of his title after winning the vacant belt with a 12 round decision over Joet Gonzalez last October in Reno, NV.
Stevenson was originally to have defended for first time on Saturday March 14th against Miguel Marriaga at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Originally, as the Covid-19 teen outbreak began to shut sports down the week of that fight, Top Rank was going to hold it without fans, but then reversed course the day before, and canceled the bout all together.
Rivera is a 26 year old featherweight veteran with a 27 – 4 – 2 record and did challenge recently for the WBA Super Featherweight championship losing a 12-round decision to Leo Santa Cruz in May of 2019. Rivera has lost four of his last six fights, but did score a knockout win in May of last year over David Godinez.
Back to Arum. Top Rank could obviously decide to add another significant fight to the June 9th card. And he has also repeatedly maintained that they may start doing as many as two or three shows per week, including championship fights in a studio setting without fans, as boxing resumes.
Arum mentioned Stevenson’s name in media interviews over the last two weeks and also mentioned Unified Jr. Welterweight champ Jose Luis Ramirez and IBF Lightweight Champ Teofimo Lopez, as fighters that could be fighting next month or at least soon on their cards.