By: Sean Crose
It must be lonely being Shakur Stevenson. The undefeated two division titlist is hoping to get a crack at WBC lightweight title, currently being held, along with all the other lightweight titles, by one Devan Haney. First though Stevenson must face a mandatory contender. Problem is, no contender appears to want to fight him at the moment. At least that’s been the case with Isaac Cruz, William Zepeda and now former titlist George Kambosos. Those three well regarded fighters have, for whatever reason, decided that they would not like to share a ring with Stevenson early next year.
It’s all reminiscent of Herman Melville’s “Bartleby the Scrivener,” the famous 19th century short story where the eponymous main character responds to requests with the maddening line “I would prefer not to.” Bartleby, however, was at the very least deeply troubled. The contenders Stevenson has wanted to face are far more practical in their thinking. With that being said, Stevenson has been understanding of Kambosos, who has just gotten over a tough fight (his second loss in a row to Haney). “Respect champ,” he tweeted at the Aussie fighter. “I understand this is just the 3rd time I get rejected and I haven’t had one fight at 135 but understandable u been thru a lot rest up and when u ready I’ll be here waiting.”
Stevenson has reason, frankly, to be frustrated. Although Cruz and Zepeda may indeed have legitimate reasons not to face him at the moment, as he himself agrees Kambosos has, it’s ridiculous that a fighter of Stevenson’s pedigree can’t get a bout with a high ranking opponent. A win over the 19-0 Stevenson would be a career making performance for any fighter. With that in mind, there are certainly easier roads to a title than having to get past one of the most well regarded boxers on the planet. This is something Stevenson is acutely aware of as he searches for a new opponent.
With that being said it appears that the widely unknown Shuichiro Yoshino of Japan might be Stevenson’s next ring challenge. He may not be a household name, but the 16-0 Yoshino possesses an undefeated record and has won all but four of his fights within the distance. If he’s willing to accept the challenge to battle Stevenson, the rewards could be great…though the risks would likely be even greater. Either way, it would be the chance of a lifetime for the WBC’s number six ranked lightweight contender.
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