By: Hans Themistode
Claressa Shields was both elated and taken aback when the news initially broke.
As first reported by Dan Rafael, formerly of ESPN, WBO lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson and WBC titlist Oscar Valdez – are on the verge of agreeing to terms for a unification showdown on April 30th, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
On paper, Valdez will be undoubtedly the most accomplished and skilled fighter Stevenson has ever faced in his young career. Still, despite the step up in competition, fellow former Olympian Claressa Shields believes that once the bell rings, Stevenson will prove that he’s simply on another level.
“I got Shakur winning,” said Shields recently during an interview with FightHype.com. “I got Shakur tested slightly but I think Shakur is going to break Oscar Valdez down and by the seventh round, it’s going to be a knockout. Skills pay the bills.”
While Valdez has enjoyed sizable success throughout his career thus far, in 2021, he took both his game and star power to another level.
Following a fairly dominant title reign at 126 pounds, Valdez struggled mightily once he opted to test the super featherweight waters. With two shaky performances against Adam Lopez and Jayson Velez, Lopez found himself as a gigantic underdog against the hard-hitting Miguel Berchelt.
Regardless of the thoughts of the betting public, however, Valdez easily dispatched of the Mexican star, scoring three knockdowns on the night before violently stripping Berchelt of his WBC crown via 10th round stoppage. Soon after, Valdez would successfully defend his newly won trinket, somewhat controversially, against Robson Conceicao.
Although Valdez may have solidified his placement as one of the best 130 pounders in the world, Stevenson planted his flag firmly alongside him.
The former Olympic silver medalist toyed with fringe contender Jeremia Nakathila, winning every round during their June 12th, showdown. Four months later, Stevenson laid waste to former marine Jamel Herring.
Even with a packed pro-Herring crowd vehemently cheering him on, Stevenson ignored the noise and easily outboxed his man before scoring the 10th round stoppage victory. In the process, Stevenson was successful in wrapping his second divisional title around his waist.
With both 130 pound titlist riding the high of their respective stellar years, and with the pair considered arguably head and shoulders above the rest, Shields is anxious to watch them lock horns in the middle of the ring.
In the end, while the former two-time Olympic gold medalist ultimately respects Valdez and thinks extremely highly of his overall skills, she maintains that once the bell rings, Valdez will be on the receiving end of a beating like no other.
“I think Shakur is going to beat Oscar Valdez pretty bad.”
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