By: Sean Crose
Rising featherweight Shakur Stevenson, the 16-0 undefeated New Jersey native, will be fighting in front of a hometown crowd on Saturday night when he faces the 27-4 Alberto Guevara at Newark’s Prudential Center. The televised portion of the Top Rank Card will be aired live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at 10:30 Eastern Standard Time. This will be Stevenson’s third fight in 2019, giving proof to the assertion that it’s hoped he rises quickly through the ranks.
Stevenson stopped Jessie Cris Rosales in January in Verona, New York, and then earned a unanimous decision win over Christopher Diaz in Madison Square Garden this past April on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan undercard.
Guevara, of California by way of Mexico, was last seen on the ring this past January, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Hugo Ruiz. In truth, the 28 year old is a last minute replacement opponent for Stevenson. The former Olympian was first supposed to face Franklin Manzanilla, but Manzanilla had to step away from the bout. That left an opportunity for Guevara, who has fought twice for a world bantamweight title, to step in. Guevara’s most notable opponent to date has been Leo Santa Cruz, who Guervara lost a close fight to via unanimous decision back in 2012.
This will be the first time Stevenson is fighting as a pro in his hometown. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka was on hand this week to show his support for the local standout who earned himself an Olympic Silver medal in 2016. Since that time, the 22 year old has made himself one of the top names at featherweight. He’s also shown a more ferocious side lately, as when he unloaded a brutal body attack on Diaz last spring. Now Stevenson finds himself ranked as the number one WBO featherweight contender, although he’s been noted for not having real flash in an era of over the top personalities. As ESPNs Mark Kriegel recently put it, Stevenson “merely looks like a good guy in a sport that celebrates bad boys.”
Aside from Stevenson-Guevara, Saturday’s televised card will also present a bantamweight bout between the 20-1-1Joshua Greer Jr of Chicago, and the 20-1-1 Nikolai Potapov of Brooklyn, by way of Russia. The fight is scheduled for 12 rounds and will be an IBF world title eliminator. Greer’s last bout was a knockout victory over Giovanni Eascaner last February in Hinckley, Minnesota. Potapov was last seen retiring Adam Mgeba in Russia this past March. Needless to say, Saturday presents a huge opportunity for both fighters.
The televised portion of Saturday’s card will feature Top Rank’s go-to team on ESPN. Aside from Kriegel, there’s former welterweight titlist Timothy Bradley on hand to call the fights, along with former super middleweight and light heavyweight titlist Andre Ward, Joe Tessitore and Bernardo Osuna. Besides being televised, the card can also be streamed on the ESPN App, which will be showcasing the undercard, along with ESPN+. Expect Stevenson to be built up aggressively during the broadcast, as Top Rank and ESPN are clearly hoping the young fighter can attain true stardom.