Top Rank Made Shakur Stevenson-Oscar Valdez Official Thursday
A highly anticipated Jr. Lightweight showdown between two unbeaten champs is now official. This, as WBC 130 lb. title holder Oscar Valdez will battle WBO champ Shakur Stevenson on April 30th in Las Vegas.
— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 17, 2022
From the Top Rank release,
Stevenson and Valdez are vying to become the first unified junior lightweight champion since Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera in 2005.
Stevenson-Valdez, along with additional to be announced fight action, will be televised live on ESPN & ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.
“Oscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson are the world’s best junior lightweights. The fans and the fighters demanded this matchup, and we are proud to deliver it live on ESPN for no extra charge,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The winner becomes a superstar, and I know both men will rise to challenge.”
Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs), the fighting pride of Nogales, Mexico, is closing in on an undefeated decade as a pro after Olympic appearances in 2008 and 2012. He is 9-0 in world title fights and has solidified his standing as one of Mexico’s consummate ring warriors. His 2017 featherweight title defenses against Miguel Marriaga and Genesis Servania were Fight of the Year contenders.
In March 2018, he defeated an over-the-weight Scott Quigg despite fighting with a broken jaw for seven rounds. Valdez is 4-0 since moving up to junior lightweight, winning the WBC title with the 2021 Knockout of the Year over Miguel Berchelt. Last September, he made his first defense of that title, coming on strong in the later rounds to edge Robson Conceição by unanimous decision.
“I want to make it clear that I am the best 130-pound fighter in the world,” Valdez said. “We know Shakur Stevenson is very good at fighting, but he’s even better at social media. I’ll let my fists speak for themselves.”
Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs), the pound-for-pound talent from Newark, New Jersey, won the vacant WBO featherweight world title against Joet Gonzalez in 2019 after Valdez vacated the title to campaign at junior lightweight. Stevenson moved up in weight after dominating Gonzalez, winning three fights before challenging WBO junior lightweight world champion Jamel “Semper Fi” Herring last October in Atlanta. Stevenson stopped Herring in the 10th round to become a two-weight world champion.
As the toast of the U.S. amateur boxing scene, Stevenson was pegged for superstardom ever since making his pro debut in April 2017. Through 17 pro bouts, he’s flashed a defensive riddle that has thus far been impossible for opponents to solve.
Stevenson said, “I have been chasing this fight for nearly three years since we were both at featherweight. On April 30, I’m going to show him and the world why he ducked me all this time. I’m the best young fighter in the world, and I will become unified champion.”
Following up the win over the veteran Herring, this will be another huge step up in opponent for Stevenson, who’s clearly one of the top marketable fighters in Arum’s stable.
Valdez does have the drug controversy of having failed a pre-fight PED drug test before the Conceicao fight last fall. Yet, he was not only allowed to stay on and fight the Brazilian, but also keep his WBC title, too.
That controversy will continue to follow Valdez for awhile and will be part of the story line for the Stevenson matchup.