How Severely Will The Corona Virus Impact Boxing?
By: Sean Crose
It’s doubtful anyone can remember anything like it…at least in North America. Fears of, and precautions for, the Corona virus outbreak have now seeped into every aspect of society. Boxing has been no exception. Although the virus has yet to make a strong impact on the sport, its effects are being felt throughout the fight business. As of press time, this Saturday’s Top Rank card is still a go at Madison Square Garden. How full the arena will be, or if fans will even be able to attend live, remains a question. With the NBA having suspended its entire season, anything seems possible.
“As we speak,” Bad Left Hook quotes Top Rank honcho Bob Arum as saying, “there are no plans to cancel.” The long time promoter is clear that he’ll take his cues from the State of New York.
Saturday’s Premiere Boxing Champions’ card outside of Washington is still, as of press time, a go, both for the fighters involved, as well as for those who wish to attend the James Kirkland headlined event. Both the Top Rank and PBC cards are to be televised. The Top Rank card will be aired live on ESPN, while the PBC card will be broadcast live on Fox Sport’s 1.
Being a sport where events are held before large groups of people, boxing may well be in line for a series of cancellations, or postponements. Aside from the NBA, other major events have been cancelled or otherwise impacted by the Corona virus. The SXSW festival won’t be happening in 2020. The NCAA basketball tournament will be played in empty arenas.
Musicians from Madonna to Pear Jam to Mariah Carey have either postponed or canceled events entirely. At the moment, no fight cards of note have been altered.
Like much of society, boxing’s powers that be appear to be in a state of wait and see. With the threat of a mass outbreak looming, precautions obviously have to be taken. With so much money at stake with upcoming fight cards, however, no one wants to be quick to pull the plug on already scheduled events unless it’s absolutely necessary to. This is especially true of cards featuring high profile boxers such as Anthony Joshua, Oleksandr Usyk, Dillan Whyte, Sergey Kovalev and Canelo Alvarez (who many expect to face Billy Joe Saunders in early May).
Boxing Insider will keep readers updated as events unfold.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Miguel Marriaga, Magdaleno vs. Lukas Fight Preview
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City will be the host site for a Top Rank Promotions boxing card. This event will be televised live on ESPN starting at 10:30 p.m. ET.
The co-feature of the evening will be a bout between former world champion Jessie Magdaleno and the unbeaten Sakaria Lukas in the featherweight division. The main event will be between US prospect Shakur Stevenson and Miguel Marriaga. Stevenson’s WBO Featherweight title will be no the line.
The undercard will feature boxers such as Edgar Berlanga, John Bauza, Frederic Julian and Matthew Gonzalez.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the evening.
Jessie Magdaleno (27-1) vs. Sakaria Lukas (23-0); Featherweights
Magdaleno is a former champion, who only experienced one loss in his career to Isaac Dogboe in 2018. He looks to get back into the title picture with a win over the inexperienced Sakaria Lukas.
Magdaleno has eighteen stoppage victories, two more than Lukas. Both boxers have been fairly active in the past three years. Magdaleno fought twice in 2019, once in 2018, and once in 2017. Lukas fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2017.
Magdaleno has a big edge in age over Lukas. He is still in his athletic prime at 28 years old. Lukas is thirty five years old.
Magdaleno also has a significant edge in level of opposition faced. He has defeated the likes of Rafael Rivera, Rico Ramos, Nonito Donaire, Rey Perez, Erik Ruiz, and Roberto Castaneda.
Lukas has no notable wins. In fact, this appears to be his first fight in the United States and only his second fight outside of Namibia. His most notable wins were against Nbodana Ncube, Tello Dithebe, Mudde Ntambi, and Oscar Chauke.
Magdaleno also has the edge in amateur experience. He’s a former US National Golden Gloves Champion. He also comes from a boxing family as his brothers Diego and Marco also box. Lukas has no notable amateur experience.
This is a fight that Magdaleno should win convincingly and impressively. A win by Lukas would be considered a massive upset.
A fight against Stevenson could be on the horizon for Magdaleno if both are victorious on Saturday.
Shakur Stevenson (13-0) vs. Miguel Marriaga (29-3); WBO Featherweight Title
Shakur Stevenson is one of Top Rank Promotions’ most prized prospects. In only his twelfth fight he was able to win the WBO Featherweight title against Joet Gonzalez.
His opponent, Miguel Marriaga, came up short in his three other title shots.
Stevenson and Marriaga are about the same height, and Stevenson will have about a one inch reach advantage over Marriaga. Stevenson is also eleven years younger than Marriaga.
Marriaga does have some knockout power, as he has twenty five stoppage victories on his resume. Stevenson has stopped seven of his opponents.
Marriaga’s losses came to Vasiliy Lomachemko, Oscar Valdez, and Nicholas Walters. All three of these losses came in title matches. He has defeated the likes of Alfredo Mejia Vargas, Ruben Cervera, Guy Robb, Adones Aguelo, and Christopher Martin.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Alberto Guevara, Christopher Diaz, Jessie Rosales, Viorel Simion, Carlos Ruiz, and Roxberg Riley.
Stevenson has been extremely active in the past two years. He fought four times in 2019 and five times in 2018. Marriaga fought twice in 2019, 2018, and in 2017.
Stevenson also has an edge in amateur experience. He was an Olympic Silver Medalist for the United States while Marriaga has no notable amateur accomplishments.
This is a fight that Stevenson should win convincingly. A much more compelling fight between Stevenson and Magdaleno appear to be on the horizon.
Shakur Stevenson: A Left Handed Floyd Mayweather?
By: Hans Themistode
What were you doing at 22 years old?
Most likely you were in school or working at some job that made you feel like your life was in purgatory as you tried to figure things out.
For Shakur Stevenson, at the age of 22 he just won his first world title when he easily outpointed Joet Gonzalez this past Saturday night.
The talent of the former Olympic silver medalist has always been apparent, but now, he has put everything together.
Comparisons in boxing, or any sport for that matter, is a common occurrence. Both the fans and media alike aren’t content with just watching an outstanding athlete dominate. They must place a comparison on them.
Kobe Bryant was always compared to Michael Jordan. Lebron James has continued to hear about the Magic Johnson comparisons. Tom Brady and Joe Montana are seemingly joined at the hip as well.
Comparisons aren’t a bad thing. To the contrary, it can lead to a ton of pressure. Well, that is only if the person allows it. Comparing one former great player to a current one is one of the biggest forms of flattery that can be shown.
Shakur Stevenson is a newly minted world champion in just his 13th professional fight. It really doesn’t make any sense just how phenomenal he is at such a young age. The way in which he dominated Joet Gonzalez, who is by all means a solid fighter in his own right, was downright impressive.
One person who has been around longer than seemingly everyone is Stevenson’s manager, Bob Arum. The one of kind promoter has seen his fair share of great fighters. Comparing them to their past counterparts is something that Arum has done on countless occasions. It comes as no surprise to see Arum compare his young star to another fighter he once had under his stable. Yet, the one he was referring to, did raise a few eyebrows.
“I thought it was a really magnificent performance,” said Arum. “In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a left-handed Floyd Mayweather.”
That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it? To juxtapose Stevenson and Mayweather this early in his career says a lot about the talent of Stevenson already. Let’s not forget that Mayweather did win multiple titles in five different weight classes to go along with ending his career with a perfect record through 50 fights. If Stevenson can even come close to that than he is destined for the hall of fame.
Arum wasn’t the only notable name who was impressed with Stevenson. Multiple division champion and current pound for pound stalwart Terence Crawford emphasized the growth he has seen in Stevenson from when he first started to where he is now.
“He’s grew tremendously,” Crawford said. “He’s getting stronger. He’s getting wiser. He’s getting more sharper. He’s getting more comfortable in the ring. When I first sparred Shakur, he was just a little kid. You know? And now, we sparring, he’s learning so much in the ring by just sparring me, you know, he’s trying things on me that I do on him on me now. And I look at it and I say, ‘OK, well, he’s not just sparring me now. He’s picking up little bits and pieces of things that I do inside the ring.”
From the moment Stevenson came onto the scene there was no doubting his greatness, but he has made his mark far quicker than anyone could have imagined. If he continues his rapid rise to the top he might, again might, live up to the lofty expectations placed upon him.
Full Circle: From the Trials, to the Olympics, to the Title
By: Kirk Jackson
Roughly four years ago, Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7 KO’s) was fighting for a spot on the 2016 United States Olympic team roster, facing off against and defeating the talented Ruben Villa to earn his position on the team.
The U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials, held at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, was the first glimpse of greatness, audiences were able to witness on national level, for New Jersey native.
After snatching a silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics, fast-forward to present day with his quick ascension to world champion, the path has come full circle.
Returning to Reno, Nev., this past weekend, Stevenson realized his dream, capturing the WBO featherweight title, defeating Joet Gonzalez (23-1, 14 KO’s) over the course of 12 rounds.
“I came here to Reno, closer to his hometown, and wiped him out,” said Stevenson who went 12 rounds for the first time. “So, it’s an amazing feeling, being that I grinded for this my whole life.”
What makes his performance even more impressive, is the emotional build up leading up to the fight. There was an ongoing clash between the two camps – much pertaining to Stevenson dating the younger sister of Gonzalez.
Along with the drama comparable to Romeo and Juliet, Stevenson’s father recently passed away. To stay locked in and focused, in spite of all of the possible overwhelming emotions, says a lot about the character, resolve and concentration of Stevenson.
During this one-sided affair, Stevenson displayed technical, defensive mastery, similar to previous pound-for-pound greats that dominated (and still dominate) boxing. Greats like the late Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Andre Ward and Terence Crawford.
Perhaps this performance isn’t surprising; as noted previously, the talent and potential was always there. The application of hard work and willingness to learn helps harvest the product we see today.
And as mentioned in previous interviews, Stevenson revealed he studies other boxers and patterns himself after Whitaker, Mayweather and Crawford.
“I watch real defensive boxers who know how to get out of the way of punches and come back,” Stevenson said.
When you have great Skills like @ShakurStevenson does & has great Hall of Fame Quality supporters to follow they footsteps as in @andreward & @terencecrawford .. As long as he focused he will be very hard to beat! Beyond skies the limit!!!
— Eddie Chambers (@champfasteddie) October 27, 2019
Stevenson’s promoter Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank Boxing was impressed by the performance, comparing it to that of a fighter who used to fight under his banner.
“I thought it was a really magnificent performance,” Arum told reporters post-fight. “In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a left-handed Floyd Mayweather.”
Heralded as a young prodigy, under the tutelage of his grandfather Wali Moses, Stevenson is meeting benchmark after benchmark and the immediate question after this display of wizardry is what lies ahead progressing forward?
Arum alluded to Stevenson moving up in weight in the near future, as the appears to be the natural progression for guys considered to be top pound-for-pound fighters. “I want him to fight a couple more fights before he moves up,” Arum said.
But before Stevenson moves up in weight, hopefully the current trend of world title unifications continue and Stevenson can compete in unification bouts against the likes of IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KO’s), WBC featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr. 30-1, 18 KO’s), WBA (Super) featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KO’s) or against WBA (Regular) featherweight champion Xu Can (17-2, 3 KO’s).
Standing firm as one of the youngest world champions in boxing, along with recently crowned WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney (23-0, 15 KO’s), 20-years-old, two-time WBC super-middleweight champion David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KO’s) 22-years-old, and 24-year-old Gervonta Davis (22-0, 21 KO’s), these fighters stand tall as pillars ushering in the new, great generation of talent moving forward.
However, one distinction Stevenson has over the aforementioned fighters, is at age 22-years-old, he is the first male fighter from the 2016 Rio Olympics to win a world title.
The first fighter from the 2016 Rio Olympics to win a world title is Claressa Shields (9-0, 2 KO’s). The current unified (WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, The Ring champion) and undisputed female middleweight champion was in attendance to support her boxing family.
Also featured on the card, Olympic teammate and fellow Top Rank stablemate Mikaela Mayer (12-0, 5 KO’s), stopped Alejandra Soledad Zamora (7-4, 1 KO) in six rounds to retain her NABF title.
“I am ready for the next challenge. I want a world title,” Mayer said post-fight. “I think for the past two years I have shown that I am ready for a world title. I have shown it by easily dispatching all the fighters that have been put in front of me.”
Another fighter coming “Full circle” of sorts, also featured on the card this past weekend, is JJ Mariano.
Around the time Stevenson was fighting at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Reno, Nev., Mariano was competing and winning two national titles for the University of Nevada Reno, boxing team.
The Sparks-Reno native Mariano, won his second pro fight, defeating Sean Cerveny by unanimous decision in their welterweight bout and improving to (2-0, 1 KO).
Led by former super lightweight world title contender, and longtime trainer Pat “Paddy” Jefferson, along with fellow national champion Jarred Santos, Mariano aims to win world titles and blaze his own path in the boxing world. Much like Shakur Stevenson.
Stevenson Defeats Gonzalez To Win WBO Title
By: Sean Crose
The Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada hosted a night of Top Rank Boxing on Saturday, featuring a card that was aired live on ESPN +. The main event was the battle for the WBO featherweight title between the 12-0 Shakur Stevenson and the 23-0 Joet Gonzalez. Before the main event, however, two other fights were presented for the live ESPN + audience. First, the 21-1-1 Joshua Greer Jr faced off against Cleveland’s 19-2-2 Antonio Nieves. The scheduled 10 rounder was for a couple of minor titles (the World Boxing Council Continental Americas Bantam Title, and the World Boxing Organization NABO Bantam title).
The first round was a tight affair, with neither man allowing himself to truly unload on his opponent. The second round didn’t showcase an inordinate amount of action, either. Things began to pick up in the third, as both fighters began to find their sea legs. Nieves landed a terrific left at the beginning of the fourth, but was unable to capitalize on it. In the fifth, it appeared as if Greer was searching for a big shot that he had yet to land. Still, the fight remained close. Nieves landed well and got aggressive at the end of the sixth.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Boxing Twitter Account
Greer came out blasting in the seventh, though Nieves was able to survive and engage throughout the rest of the round. Greer landed well in the eighth, before dropping Nieves with a low blow. Yet Nieves ended up closing the round by landing well himself. Greer began to dominate in the ninth of what had slowly become an entertaining match. Greer went down in the tenth, and the two fighters had to be separated at the final bell. Greer was still able to walk away with the UD win.
The next fight saw the 11-0 former Olympian Mikaela Mayer facing the 7-3-0 Alejadra Soledad Zamora for the NABF Female Super Featherweight title. The match was a scheduled 10 round affair. Mayer dropped her opponent in the first. To her credit, Zamora got back to her feet and exchanged throughout the round. Still, the first belonged to Mayer. The second round was exciting, as well, with both women trading shots. Mayer was controlling the fight, but Zamora was brave and game. The bout remained aggressive throughout the third.
The fourth saw Mayer start to beat up her opponent. The skill deficit had started to become obvious. Mayer continued to beat up Zamora in the fifth. The bout was about at the point where it no longer was necessary to continue the proceedings. The sixth showcased more of the same from the previous few rounds. In between rounds, Zamora’s father/trainer wisely and kindly stopped the bout.
It was time for the main event. The first round was basically a feeling out process, though Stevenson was able to jab a bit and throw some straight rights to the body. The second round saw Stevenson continue to do the same while Gonzalez feinted a lot, but didn’t do much else. The third and fourth rounds were identical – with Gonzalez missing his target and Stevenson landing point friendly, Olympic style punches. After five it was clear Gonzalez would have to unleash his inner Marcos Maidana if he hoped to have any chance of winning. Gonzalez had a stronger round in the sixth than he probably had in the previous five rounds, but his skill level was nowhere near that of his foes.
A mauling Gonzalez and a strangely inactive Stevenson told the story of the seventh. Stevenson regained control in the eighth. An aggressive Gonzalez stalked Stevenson in the ninth. Stevenson was no longer as dominant as he had been earlier in the fight – but he was still winning. Still, the rising star’s lack of activity seemed to cost him the tenth. Stevenson regained control in the eleventh, then went on to dominate the twelfth. Needless to say, Stevenson won a wide decision victory, along with a world title.
Shakur Stevenson Fighting For More Than Just a World Title
By: Hans Themistode
Time sure does move fast doesn’t it?
It feels like just the other day, every one associated with the red, white and blue were pulling for Shakur Stevenson to bring home the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
Well, 2016 wasn’t that far away now was it?
Just three short years ago, Stevenson was dazzling the crowds in Rio De Janeiro. He made everyone back home in America proud as he brung home the silver medal. There was no need for Stevenson to stay in the unpaid ranks. He proved that he could hang with many of the top boxers in the world.
His decision to turn pro was an excellent one. 12 fights with no defeats provides credence to that statement.
Like other pro fighters, the road to the top was supposed to be a slow one. There was no need to rush him, he was after all, just 18 years of age. Unlike many young fighters who enjoy working there way from prospect, to contender to world champion, Stevenson was impatient.
After two years of fighting easy opposition, Stevenson made a huge statement earlier this year when he outclassed former title challenger Christopher Diaz. It was an eye opening performance. Stevenson gave a glimpse of what the future would be like, but who knew that the future would be coming so soon.
After knocking out Alberto Guevara in just three rounds in his most recent ring appearance. Stevenson had effectively worked his way to the mandatory position in the WBO sanctioning body. He will now fight for the vacant world title when he takes on Joet Gonzalez at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, in Reno, Nevada.
What should be your typical championship level fight, is anything but normal at this point.
Stevenson and Gonzalez have a history together. One that is a bit messy once you dive into it. Stevenson is currently dating Gonzalez’s sister. Jajaira, who is a terrific boxer in her own right, met Stevenson several years ago and developed a bond with him. That bond however, is one that her older brother and Stevenson’s opponent would like to see change.
“I never liked him since the amateurs,” he says, enumerating the ways of his dislike: “Fake-ass handshake… Loud, obnoxious, disrespectful… The way he dresses, half his ass showing. That ain’t no style. I mean, you think that looks cute? Come on, man, pick up your pants.”
Stevenson has since fired back with taunts of his own.
“He’s a bitch,” said Stevenson.
Although the main storyline of this rivalry has been the relationship between Stevenson and Gonzalez sister, there is something else that hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention.
While preparing for the biggest fight of his life, Stevenson suffered a major loss in his life. The death of his father Alfredo Rivera. Their relationship has been a rocky one over the years but Stevenson does hold a broken heart when he enters the ring.
“If I’m being honest with you, I’m bipolar,” Stevenson said of his relationship with his father. “I’m a bipolar type of person. Sometimes me and him would talk, and sometimes he’d reach out to me and I’d kind of shy away from him because I still had some anger inside of me. I’m dealing with it well. I’m hurting because that’s my blood. That’s my Dad and I can’t go and look him in the face, knowing he’s not here no more. At the end of the day, he did love me and with my boxing, he loved what I became.”
What was supposed to be nothing more than a title shot has morphed into a love story and much more. Hopefully the winner of this contest can put everything else behind them. For Stevenson however, that might be much easier said than done.
Fight Preview: Greer vs. Nieves, Stevenson vs. Gonzalez
By: William Holmes
On Saturday Night the Reno/Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada will be the host site for a Top Rank Promotions Card that will be televised live on ESPN+.
Former Olympian Shakur Stevenson will be fight for the vacant WBO Featherweight Title as he takes on veteran Joet Gonzalez. The co-main event of the night is a bantamweight fight between Josh Greer and Antonio Nieves.
Other bouts on the card include a female junior lightweight bout between Mikaela Mayer and Alejandra Soledad Zamora.
Photo Credit: Top Rank Promotions Website
Boxers such as Albert Bell, Frank De Alba, Jason Sanchez, Andy Vences, and Mark Bernaldez will be fighting on the undercard.
The following is a preview of the co-main event and main event of the night.
Josh Greer Jr. (21-1-1) vs. Antonio Nieves (19-2-2); Bantamweights
Josh Greer is a young prospect that has been extremely active since 2017. He fought twice in 2019, four times in 2018, and four times in 2017. His opponent, Antonio Nieves, is seven years older than him and has not been as active. He fought once in 2019, once in 2018, and twice in 2017…in which he lost both fights in 2017.
They are the same height and Nieves will have about a two and a half inch reach advantage over him. Neither boxer is known for their power, Greer has twelve stoppage wins while Nieves has eleven. However, Greer has won four of his past five fights by stoppage.
Nieves does appear to have an edge in amateur experience, as he was a National Golden Gloves Silver Medalist while Greer does not have any notable amateur titles or medals.
Greer has defeated the likes of Nikolai Potapov, Giovanni Escaner, Daniel Lozano, Glenn Dezurn, and James Smith. His lone loss was to the undefeated Stephen Fulton and he has a draw with Mario Ayala. Both his loss and draw were early on in his career.
Nieves has defeated the likes of Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Christian Esquivel, and Alejandro Santiago Barrios. His losses were to Naoya Inoue and Nikolai Potapov.
This should be an intriguing and possibly close fight. Nieves has been in the ring with some very tough opponents and Greer is a young up and coming contender. Greer has to be considered a slight favorite in this fight, and it should help determine if he’s a legitimate challenger or not.
Shakur Stevenson (12-0) vs. Joet Gonzalez (23-0); WBO Featherweight Title
On paper, this looks to be the toughest fight of Shakur Stevenson’s career.
Stevenson will have a two inch height advantage over Gonzalez, but that will be negated by the two inch reach advantage that Gonzalez has. Both boxers are young, with Stevenson being twenty two years old and Gonzalez being twenty six years old. Both boxers are undefeated as a professional and have been fairly active.
Stevenson fought three times in 2019 and five times in 2018. Gonzalez fought twice in 2019 and three times in 2018. It appears that Gonzalez might have a slight edge in power as he has stopped fourteen of his opponents while Stevenson has only stopped seven. But three of the past four fights by Stevenson have resulted in a stoppage victory.
Stevenson does have a significant edge in amateur experience and accolades. Stevenson was a former US National Champion as an amateur and a Silver Medalist in the 2016 Summer Olympics. Gonzalez has no notable amateur championships.
Stevenson is a southpaw and Gonzalez fights out of an orthodox stance. This can often be a problem for less experienced fighters, but for a boxer with the amateur pedigree of Stevenson, it shouldn’t be an issue.
Stevenson has defeated the likes of Alberto Guevara, Christopher Diaz, Jessie Cris Rosales, Viorel Simion, and Aelio Mesquita. Every boxer Stevenson has defeated had a winning record at the time.
Gonzalez has defeated the likes of Manuel Avila, Rodrigo Guerrero, Rafael Rivera, and Derrick Murray.
This fight will be a good test for Stevenson as he chases his first legitimate world title. Gonzalez should challenge him, but Stevenson is one of the sport’s brightest prospects and it’s likely he will show the world why on Saturday night.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Stevenson, Wallin, Hunter, Monroe, DAZN, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of September 16th to September 23rd; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Stevenson-Gonzalez Tickets on Sale
Tickets for the highly anticipated vacant WBO featherweight world title fight between unbeaten stars Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez — Saturday, October 26 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center — go on sale TODAY, September 23, at 10 a.m. PT.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Golden Boy, Let’s Get It On Promotions and Atlantis Casino Resort Spa, tickets for this world championship event priced at $110, $70 and $40 (not including applicable fees) can be purchased via Ticketmaster.com or in person at the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa gift shop.
A pair of undefeated Northern Nevada-based prospects, JJ Mariano and Diego Elizondo, are slated to appear on the undercard.
Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), the WBO No. 1 contender, is no stranger to Reno fight fans. He won multiple national tournaments there as an amateur, including the U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials in late 2015. Stevenson went on to capture a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The 22-year-old last fought July 13 in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, knocking out Alberto Guevara in the third round.
The 25-year-old Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs), the WBO No. 2 contender, is a seven-year pro who has scored three consecutive knockouts. A Los Angeles native, Gonzalez is coming off a sixth-round stoppage over Manuel Avila.
Stevenson-Gonzalez and a co-feature will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+, the leading multi-sport streaming service, beginning at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. The entire undercard will stream on ESPN+ starting at 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT.
DAZN to Launch on Comcast’s Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex
DAZN, the world’s largest sports streaming service, is now available to Comcast customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available over the Internet to millions more on Xfinity X1 this fall, marking DAZN’s first distribution deal with a major U.S. video and internet provider.
“We’re thrilled to give our Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex customers access to DAZN’s live and on-demand programming starting this fall just in time for some of the most highly anticipated events in sports this year,” said Daniel Spinosa, Vice President, Entertainment Services for Comcast Cable. “With new content from partners like DAZN, coupled with our aggregated UI, X1 is the best way to experience live sports at home, and with Flex we can extend this great content, integrated experience and voice control to our Internet-only customers directly on their TVs.”
As part of a new global initiative DAZN for Operators, DAZN now provides a turnkey opportunity for cable, satellite, mobile and internet providers to offer DAZN’s premium sports content as a major value add to their customers.
“DAZN for Operators is our new partnership program, in which we collaborate with the world’s leading pay TV operators, ISPs and mobile carriers to make the live sports experience even more accessible and better to watch for fans,” said Ben King, DAZN SVP, Global Distribution and Business Development. “We couldn’t think of a better inaugural partner than Comcast.”
Later this year, customers will be able to find DAZN’s content more deeply integrated within the X1 and Flex experiences, including direct access within the sports hub, the ultimate destination for all things sports on X1 and Flex, and the ability to call up a specific program with the Xfinity Voice Remote (“show me ChangeUp”). Flex is now included with an Xfinity Internet-only subscription, providing new and existing customers with the ability to easily access their favorite streaming services and manage their connected home devices right on the TV.
The launch coincides with DAZN’s blockbuster fall schedule of combat sports events. “Fight Season on DAZN” features:
– Oct. 5 – Triple G vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko – IBF Middleweight World Championship
– Oct. 26 – Bellator 232: Rory MacDonald vs. Douglas Lima – Welterweight Championship
– Nov. 2 – Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev – WBO Light Heavyweight Championship
– Nov. 9 – KSI vs. Logan Paul II
– Dec. 7 – Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua II – WBA, WBO, IBF Heavyweight World Championship
Since its introduction to the U.S. market in September 2018, DAZN has continued to add to its content portfolio, which includes thousands of live and on-demand sporting and other events each year. In April, it premiered a live MLB show ChangeUp that features the best action from around the league each day. The service also unveiled a new docu-series 40 DAYS which pairs celebrity executive producers with boxers to document their preparation leading up to fight night. On Sept. 9, the long-awaited daily talk show from former NFL All-Pro punter Pat McAfee launched on DAZN.
DAZN offers an annual pass for $99.99, and also a monthly option at $19.99 for those customers more focused on flexibility.
Wallin Returns to Hero’s Welcome in Sweden After Battle with Tyson Fury
Newly emerged top heavyweight contender Otto Wallin enjoyed a national hero’s homecoming yesterday in his native Sweden.
Basking in the glory earned by his epic stand against lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas last Saturday, September 14, Wallin was greeted at Stockholm airport by countrymen eager to celebrate with their newest sports star and then whisked off for a national media tour.
“It felt great to have such a welcome at home in Sweden,” said a proud Wallin. “The media and the people are really backing me more and more and that’s awesome. Boxing in Sweden needs all the attention it can get and it feels good to be part of helping boxing at home and to be a role model for the kids.”
Wallin sat for several interviews including Sweden’s national publicly funded radio, Sveriges Radio, important sports newspaper Sportbladet and gave an emotional tribute to his late father in SVT’s popular Morning Studio, watched by 36.4% of the country.
Though Wallin was ultimately deemed to have lost on the scorecards after 12 tough rounds, the respect he earned from Fury and boxing fans worldwide has instantly taken him to recognizable status on the heavyweight boxing landscape.
“Otto had an outstanding fight against Tyson Fury and a well-deserved hero’s welcome in his homeland,” said his promoter, Dmitriy Salita. “Although he didn’t get to take home the belt, it feels like he did to his fans in Sweden. As he said after the fight, it was a great learning experience and he’s definitely proven to himself and the boxing world that he is a big part of the heavyweight division. The sky is the limit for Otto and I am very happy that he has achieved celebrity athlete status in the US and back home in Sweden.”
Wallin is scheduled for additional Swedish media appearances today and the rest of the week.
Kevin Hunter Ready to Challenge the Elite in the 140 Pound Division
Prince Ranch Boxing’s undefeated super lightweight, Keith “The Bounty” Hunter (11-0, 7 KOs), now ranked WBA #12, is ready to face anyone in the top ten of the 140-pound division as he enters contender status.
Hunter who recently out boxed Cameron Kreal (16-14-3, 4 KOs) by a wide decision, a fighter who despite his record not looking the best, was a heavily avoided fighter. In his previous fight before that, Hunter defeated, Sanjarbek Rakhmanov (11-2-1, 5 KOs) by split decision. Both wins come on his opponents home turf. Hunter has continuously looked to fight the best and is creating momentum organically through each performance.
“I have faced tough opposition in my last two bouts beating Cameron Kreal and Sanjarbek Rakhmanov, both who were fighting on the “A” side with their promoter, Mayweather Promotions,” said Keith Hunter, who is promoted by Greg Cohen Promotions. “I feel I am ready to face the best and this world ranking just puts me closer to getting those fights.”
Keith Hunter, who is the younger brother of Heavyweight contender, Michael Hunter (18-1, 12 KOs), comes from a boxing family. His father Michael Hunter Sr. (26-7-2, 8 KOs), had a successful career in the 80’s.
“I am fighting mostly as professional since people don’t put enough respect on my father’s name, and I feel that continuing his legacy is very important to me,” Hunter continued. “I am excited for what the future holds and like I said, I’m ready for anyone.”
“Hunter is a special fighter, he is talented, but also is a courageous fighter, who fights with tremendous heart,” said Prince Ranch Boxing’s CEO Greg Hannley. “It is exciting to see that he is now ranked in the top fifteen of the WBA as this can lead to some great fights in the future.”
Hunter is currently ranked #12 by the WBA and is awaiting a fight date as he looks to fight for a top ten opponent.
Carlos Monroe to Defend Title on Saturday in Atlanta
On Saturday, September 26 at Buckhead Theater in Atlanta, World Boxing Association Fedalatin Champion Carlos Monroe, in his biggest fight to date, defends his title against former world title challenger Javier Francisco Maciel. In the co-feature, Eric Moon will fight Mike Guy for the American Boxing Federation (ABF) title, as there will be eight bouts in all.
Proceeds from the event will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta.
Carlos Monroe (16-0, 13 KOs) was born in Chicago and moved to Atlanta age 3. As an amateur he won NINE consecutive Georgia State Golden Gloves tournaments. He also was two-time Florida State Golden Gloves champion. “Every year I competed n the state Golden Gloves, I won,” stated Carlos. In the 2015 Olympic trials, even though Carlos won his final bout, he was unable to fight further due to a major cut from an accidental head butt.
Monroe, coached by trainer of world champions Stacie McKinley, made his professional debut on December 16, 2017 and had ten fights in 2018, and this will be his sixth this year. “This is my biggest fight, to date,” said Carlos. “ I have been training in Pompano Beach, Florida, with a lot of sparring partners with different styles, so I am good about making adjustments on the fly. I don’t feel any threats in the ring. Javier is a game opponent and fought a few big names. He comes forward and is a pressure fighter, and I like that.” Monroe likes to work the body and “most of my stoppages have come from body shots.” Carlos lives about twenty minutes outside of Atlanta and will have many family and friends at the fight.
“Carlos is very smart, listens well and is a hard worker,” said McKinley, who has trained Mike Tyson and numerous middleweight world champions. “He has unusual hand speed, and power at the same time. This fight is a step up for him and after that, there will be another step up. I have big plans for him. He leaves home and comes here for to train, has a fight, goes home for week then comes back for another six to eight weeks. He is not just training boxing, he is living boxing and that’s what you need to do to become great. He has a young daughter now and a wonderful promoter, Judy Starkey, who has invested a lot in Carlos to provide for him what he needs to be successful.”
Javier Francisco Maciel (33-8, 23 KOs) from Buenos Aires, Argentina, has fought for the World Boxing Association world middleweight championship and has won numerous regional titles. Maciel has fought world champion Dmitry Pirog and world title challengers Willie Monroe Jr., Francisco Antonio Mora.
“We are so thankful to partners like this that support the nearly 3,000 kids that attend our Clubs each day and help them reach their full potential,” said Missy Dugan, CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta. “Through sports, youth build skills that will serve them now and throughout their lives including self-confidence, good sportsmanship, discipline, and an appreciation of healthy living and exercise.” Kids from several local Clubs will attend. Event organizers are Judy Starkey, an accomplished Atlanta businesswoman and Harry Barnett, who has been involved in boxing for over sixty years as a boxer, manager and promoter.
The Future is Now For Shakur Stevenson
By: Hans Themistode
The fast track is a route that many new fighters are taking. Gone are the days of slowly building a fighter into a championship contender. Nowadays everyone feels as though they are ready for the big leagues.
WBA Featherweight champion Gervonta Davis won his first world title at the age of 21. Former WBC Super Middleweight champion David Benavidez captured gold at the age of 20. Although many of these young fighters are finding success, it doesn’t mean that they should be pushed in that direction.
Some fighters, including the aforementioned Gervonta Davis, David Benavidez and pour-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko elected to move their careers faster then normal. It may have been criticized at first, but those critics have proven to be wrong. The norm however is for a fighter to have to wait his turn before getting his shot at a title. All-time great Carl Froch was 31 years old before he became a world champion. The recently retired Ishe Smith was 34 before he could officially call himself a world champion as well.
What Davis and Benavidez have done is an outlier not the norm.
Another fighter who seems to be following the new trend of spectacular young fighters looking for a shot in the bright lights sooner rather than later is Shakur Stevenson.
Stevenson has star power. Tons of it.
Ask anyone involved in the sport of boxing and they will tell you that Stevenson will be the Floyd Mayweather of his generation. He’s that good.
Everyone remembers Stevenson’s captivating run during the 2016 olympics. He brung America exactly where it belongs. Back in the forefront.
During the 2016 Olympic Games, Stevenson was the talk of the town. Every time he stepped into the ring, he won. It came as no surprise to see Stevenson in the finals with a chance at gold hanging in the balance. He would however come up short in his bid to become the first American boxer since his idol, Andre Ward in the 2004 Athens games.
The loss for Stevenson did nothing to dampen his star. If anything, it enhanced it.
With nothing left to prove for Stevenson he turned pro. It’s only been two years since he has made that decision but he has shown exactly why it was a good one. Because of his willingness to face stiff competition at such an early point in his career, Stevenson has been rewarded with a number one ranking in the WBO sanctioning body. He now is on a collision course with the number two ranked fighter Joet Gonzalez, for the vacant title later on this year.
Everything seems to be moving fast. Just three short years ago Stevenson was fighting for a gold medal. Fast forward to 2019 and he will now be fighting for gold once again, only this time, of another variety.
Some fighters need time, preparation and patience before they are simply thrown into the lions den. For Shakur Stevenson, this is not a step to a bridge too far for him to cross.
He’s a special fighter.
Many thought Stevenson would be the future of boxing. He has other plans. Stevenson wants his future to start right now.
Three Takeaways from this Weekend
By: Jonah Dylan
After a weekend that featured barely any fights, it was – in theory – nice to see so many fights this past weekend. Yes, the fights weren’t necessarily great, and we didn’t have any superstars in action, but at least it was something. At least there were choices if you didn’t like what you were watching. Whether or not it was particularly important, a lot of stuff happened. So let’s talk about it.
1. We’ve been underrating Daniel Dubois. A lot.
First of all, seeing two legit undefeated prospects fight each other was great, and it’s something that almost never happens, especially in the United States (speaking of heavyweight prospects, Jermaine Franklin is nowhere near Dubois and got away with an absolute robbery decision against Jerry Forrest on Friday night). Dubois was favored against Nathan Gorman, but we didn’t really know much about either guy, and there were a lot of people who picked Gorman to win the fight.
It was never really close. Gorman was cut in two places and you could tell it was bothering him, but Dubois didn’t just use his power. He boxed Gorman and consistently hit him with clean shots before finishing him in the fifth round. Before this fight, both Dubois and Gorman had been doing pretty much the same thing and fighting washed up guys who had no business being in a boxing ring. Now, Dubois has a legit win on his record, which is more than most prospects can say.
It’ll be really interesting to see what Frank Warren does with Dubois moving forward. No one is suggesting he’s ready for top-level guys yet, but this was a major step-up and he could see himself in the world title mix sooner rather than later. I’d like to see him in with a top-10 guy in the near future.
2. Shakur Stevenson is ready for a title fight
Or, as ready as he’ll ever be. Watching him knock out no-hopers is a useless exercise at this point. After Stevenson dominated a respectable opponent in Christopher Diaz, it was clear his time as a prospect had come to an end. If the point of Saturday’s fight was just to headline and fight at home, fine. But there’s no reason for him to do it again.
So who should he fight? Leo Santa Cruz is with PBC, and Gary Russell has already made his annual appearance and probably won’t be heard from until next April or May. That leaves Josh Warrington and Oscar Valdez.
Warrington just escaped with a very close decision in an ugly fight with Kid Galahad, but on the surface he might have some difficulty finding opponents in the near future. He’s with Frank Warren and his fights stream on ESPN+, so it’s realistic that Warren and Bob Arum could get together to make this fight. It’d be a really interesting style matchup for Stevenson, who throws lots of combinations and has elite speed. Warrington has almost no power but just overwhelms guys with his work rate. Stevenson would probably be favored here, but Warrington has been the underdog for two of his three world title fights, and that hasn’t been a problem.
Valdez hasn’t committed to staying in the featherweight division, and honestly I think he would rather fight Carl Frampton than Stevenson. As I’ve said before, it makes no sense to me why Frampton would get a title shot before Stevenson, considering he just lost a clear decision to Warrington in December. He’d probably lose to Valdez, too. Stevenson-Valdez would be a little less interesting than Stevenson-Warrington, if only because Valdez has been fighting with an extremely cautious style since breaking his jaw and will probably be moving up after the fight regardless. Let’s make Stevenson-Warrington in the UK and see what happens.
3. It’s tough to figure out what to make of the junior featherweights
Rey Vargas outpointed Tomoki Kameda on Saturday to keep his WBC strap, but the fans weren’t exactly thrilled with Vargas’ cautious performance. He’s a really interesting fighter. On one hand, he can always use his height and reach advantages to win decisions, but once in a while he chooses to engage and hasn’t been perfect, like when he got dropped in the second round of his last fight. On Saturday, Kameda wanted a war, but Vargas didn’t give it to him and stayed calm on the outside.
This makes me think Vargas against WBO titleholder Emanuel Navarrete would be a very intriguing matchup. In both fights against Isaac Dogboe, Navarette used his height and reach to land a barrage of uppercuts and stop Dogboe from ever getting close to him. I feel like we really don’t know anything about Navarrete until he fights someone else, but a fight down the line with Vargas would be a fascinating matchup.
Then there’s unified WBA/IBF titleholder Daniel Roman. You probably have to consider him the best in the division due to his win over T.J. Doheny in their FOTY contender in April, but I’m not sure where he goes next. He has to make a mandatory next but has said he’d like to unify against Vargas, which would be a quality fight for three belts. I’d rather see Vargas test himself against Navarrete, but Navarrete is with Top Rank and probably won’t be going anywhere near any DAZN guys for a while. Then again, this is what we said about Jose Ramirez, so maybe it’s possible. One can hope.
Follow me on Twitter @TheJonahDylan.
Stevenson Easily Dispatches Guevara, Greer Skates by Potapov
By: William Holmes
The Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey was the host site for tonight’s Top Rank Boxing on ESPN Card.
The undercard was streamed on ESPN+ and the telecast started off with a an IBF Bantam Weight Eliminator between Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1) and Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1).
This fight started off slower, with both boxers feeling each other and Potapov using his height to his advantage with sharply timed counters. Greer appeared to have trouble getting to his offense in the second round, and was slightly outlanded by Potapov by the third round.
Greer kept his feet moving in the fourth round and looked like he was gaining confidence and throwing more punches. Greer kept up the high pace in the fifth round and had outlanded Potapov 51-36 punches by this round. Greer was able to land several clear shots to the body.
Potapov was able to land a few good punches in the sixth round, but Greer was still picking off most of Potapov’s punches. Potapov was the aggressor in the seventh round and landed several good straight right hands in the center of the ring.
Potapov looked like he wasn’t deterred by Greer’s alleged power in the eight round and was landing good counters and punches in bunches. The ninth round was close, but Greer was the fighter that was pressing forward.
By the tenth round the fight was still up for grabs, and Greer appeared to hurt Potapov with body shots in this round.
Greer’s corner stressed the importance of winning the final two rounds in order to win the fight, and he appeared to listen to his corner and pressed the action while looking for the knockout.
His late fight surge appeared to have been just enough. The judges scored it 114-114, 116-112, and 115-113 for Joshua Greer Jr.
Photo Credit: Mikey Williams/Top Rank Boxing
The main event of the night was between Shakur Stevenson (11-0) and Alberto Guevara (27-4) for the NABO Featherweight Title.
Guevara has had great success in Mexico, but little to none outside of it.
Guevara took the fight on short notice and didn’t look like he was in the best of shape. Stevenson opened up the first with a good lead right hook and was pressuring Guevara from corner to corner. Guevara looked scared to exchange with Guevara and spent most of the opening round on his bike.
Guevara was chased again by Stevenson in the second round and took several had punches to the body. One body led to a knockdown, but Guevara was able to get back to his feet. He was pursued by Stevenson again until Stevenson landed a right to the chin of Guevara and sent him down for a second time in the second round.
Stevenson continued to hunt down Guevara in the third round, but landed a left hand below the belt on Guevara and the referee gave Guevara time to recuperate. The fight restarted and Stevenson immediately went on the attack and had Guevara off balance. Stevenson sends Guevara down for the third time in the fight with a combination to the head.
Guevara meekly attempted to get up at the count of nine, but he was badly out matched, and the referee waived off the fight.
Shakur Stevenson wins by KO at 2:37 of the third round.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Alberto Guevara Fight Preview
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.
Shakur Stevenson Isn’t Fazed By Yet A New Opponent
By: Hans Themistode
Undefeated Featherweight contender Shakur Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs) has grown accustomed to making adjustments. During the 2016 Olympic games, he fought great fighter after great fighter. Each and every time he was forced to make an adjustment. Those in ring adjustments led to the New Jersey born native winning a silver medal.
In Stevenson’s last bout, he once again had to make alterations during a fight. In just his 11th pro bout, Stevenson was matched up against former title challenger Christopher Diaz. The aforementioned Diaz not only won was dominant during his career up to that point, but he also managed to stop five of his past six opponents as well. Stevenson made it look easy as he cruised to a unanimous decision victory.
On July 13th, Stevenson will receive a hometown bout in Newark, New Jersey, at the Prudential Center. The undefeated Hairon Socarras (22-0-3, 14 KOs) was first reported to have taken the bout against Stevenson. Shortly after, for reasons that are still unclear, Socarras pulled himself from the bout.
Socarras, who is known as a boxer puncher, was replaced with the hard hitting Franklin Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KOs). It was a contrast of fighting styles but as previously mentioned, Stevenson had no issues alternating his fight game plan.
With just a few days left til the fight, Manzanilla, for reasons that were also unspecified, pulled out of the fight as well. Stepping in to take his place is former will be former two time title challenger Alberto Guevara (27-4, 12 KOs).
Once again, Stevenson will be tasked with taking on an opponent with a completely different style than what he was preparing for. To the credit of Stevenson however, he hasn’t complained. He is simply focused on putting on a spectacular performance in front of his hometown crowd.
“I give Alberto Guevara credit for taking this fight when so many fighters won’t step into the ring with me,” Stevenson said. “He’s been in there with some great fighters, even world champions, but nothing can prepare him for me. No matter the opponent, I am going to put on a special performance for my hometown and everyone watching on ESPN on July 13.”
Guevara, on the other hand is not intimidated by the Olympic Silver medalist or his fans. He just simply wants to prove that he belongs amongst the best.
“When I was offered this fight, I did not hesitate. I want to fight the best, and Shakur Stevenson is a very good young fighter,” Guevara said. “The hometown crowd will not phase me. I’m coming to shock the boxing world.”
Shakur Stevenson finally has his opponent finalized. It may take an adjustment or two so that he can perform to the best of his ability, but make no mistake about it, he seems ready to put on a show.
Top Rank PPV Undercard Results: Verdejo, Stevenson, and Lopez Win Impressively
By: William Holmes
The televised undercard of tonight’s PPV featured three fights before the main event between Terence Crawford and Amir Khan.
This event was held at Madison Square Garden and televised live on Pay Per View in a partnership between Top Rank Promotions and ESPN.
The first fight on the undercard was between Felix Verdejo (24-1) and Bryan Vazquez (37-3) in the lightweight division.
Verdejo took control of the center of the ring early on and was landing crisp jabs in conjunction with decent body shots. Vazquez kept a good tight high guard, but he wasn’t very effective when he went on the offensive.
Verdejo landed a good short left hook in the third round but had a small cut under his left eye in the fourth round. Verdejo looked like the fresher fighter in the fifth round and was able to land some good body shots in the sixth.
Vazquez had a strong seventh and eight round and may have stolen them on the judges’ score cards. Verdejo however was the aggressor in the final two rounds and likely took them from Vazquez.
The final scores were 97-93, 97-93, and 98-92 for Felix Verdejo.
The next fight on the undercard was in the featherweight division between Shakur Stevenson (10-0) and Christopher Diaz (24-1)
Stevenson, a southpaw, started off the fight by circling away from the power hand of Diaz and stayed on the outside. Stevenson picked him apart in the second round with a jab and looked to be in good control
Diaz attempted to keep the distance tight in the third and fourth rounds but Stevenson was too accurate of a puncher to be in danger.
Stevenson had a real strong fifth round as his superior hand speed was just taking it over. Diaz had a better sixth round and both fighters crossed feet in the seventh round. Diaz looked like he was reaching for his punches a bit in the eighth round as he was behind on the cards at the time.
Stevenson looked extremely confident going into the final two rounds and coasted to a comfortable victory.
The final scores were 100-90, 99-91, and 98-92 for Shakur Stevenson.
The final fight on the undercard was a lightweight fight between Teofimo Lopez (12-0) and Edis Tatli (31-2) .
Lopez was sharp with his jab early on and landed some good check left hooks in the opening round. He continued to press in the second round and was able to land some good shots to the body.
Lopez continued to press the pace in the third round and had Tatli in full retreat in the fourth round. Lopez went for the stoppage in the fourth as he was winding up on his power shots, but Tatli was able to stay on his feet.
Lopez finished the fight in the fourth round with a vicious body shot that sent Tatli to the mat for the full ten count.
Lopez wins by knockout at 1:32 of the fifth round.
Freddie Roach Sizes Up Shakur Stevenson
By: Hans Themistode
Hall of fame trainer Freddie Roach understands what it means to be involved in a big fight. Come Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, Freddie Roach trained fighter, Christopher Diaz (24-1, 16 KOs) will have a stiff test ahead of him. Diaz will take on highly touted and currently undefeated olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (10-0, 6 KOs). It’s a contest that came as a bit of a surprise to the public. With just ten under his belt many feel as though Stevenson’s fight against Diaz is coming much too soon in his career. Count Roach as one of those that feels Stevenson might be biting off a bit more than he can chew.
“He’s a good fighter but he’s still pretty young. Only time will tell if this fight is a bit too early for him but I think so.”
Diaz has just one lone blemish on his record, a 2018 loss against Masayuki Ito for the vacant WBO Super Featherweight title. It was a fight that saw Diaz perform extremely well but he ultimately came up short.
Seldom do you see a young prospect take on such a tough challenge so early in their career. Roach believes in the young prospect from Newark, but how exactly does he feel he stacks up in comparison to young fighters such as Devin Haney and Teofimo Lopez?
“I wouldn’t put him in that category but he is 10-0 so he is doing really well, but no I don’t place him in that same category as those other guys.”
The question begs to be asked. Was Roach serious, or is this just a bit of gamesmanship? Stevenson will have the opportunity to prove Roach wrong come fight night. During Stevenson’s portion of his media day workout, he was asked why he wanted this tough assignment.
“I’m just trying to be great.”
If Stevenson wants to be great then he will have his shot on Saturday night. Diaz is the sort of test that will tell us all whether or not Stevenson has what it takes to be the future star that many have pegged him to be.