Shakur Stevenson to make stunning step-up


Mick Conlan‘s featherweight rival and future foe Shakur Stevenson [10(6)-0] is to take a major, major step-up in his next outing.

The Olympic silver medallist is reported to be close to having a fight finalised with recent WBO super featherweight title challenger Christopher Diaz [24(16)-1(0)] on the Terence Crawford v Amir Khan ESPN PPV undercard at the Madison Square Garden Arena in New York on April 20th.

The news was reported late last night by ESPN’s Dan Rafael that a deal is currently “being finalized.”

Diaz was due to fight recent WBO super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno on the Mick Conlan St Patrick’s Day undercard at The Theater at Madison Square Garden on ESPN+ but will now fight Stevenson a month later.

Magdaleno, instead, is reportedly close to securing a replacement fight with former WBA champ Rico Ramos on the card that will be topped by Belfast feather Conlan’s fight with Mexican Ruben Garcia Hernandez [24(10)-3(1)-2].

Having gone the distance with WBA bantam champ Nonito Donaire less than a year-and-a-half ago, Hernandez has been seen as a solid fight for Conlan [10(6)-0] who is being built very steadily – dominating the Spanish and Italian champions last year along with recent world title challenger Adeilson Dos Santos and domestic-level Brit Jason Cunningham.

However, Stevenson’s progression has been especially aggressive and impressive.

mick conlan shakur stevenson

Successive stoppages over Viorel Simion and Jessie Cris Rosales have gotten people talking about the Newark youngster and a step-up versus Diaz has been greeted with shock and awe.

A Top Rank stablemate and only 24 years of age, ‘Pitufo’ Diaz doesn’t fit the bill in terms of an early-career opponent. The Puerto Rican challenged for world honours up at super feather last July but was outpointed by Masayuki Ito and he has since moved down to featherweight.

Conlan and then Stevenson were signed by Bob Arum’s outfit in the wake of the Rio Olympics and were later joined by the Irishman’s controversial defeater Vladimir Nikitin.

A fight with the Russian is being aimed for this summer back in Belfast and Conlan has also stated his belief that he will cross swords with Stevenson before either reach world title level.

READ: Mick Conlan predicts early Shakur scrap

However, should the Diaz fight be made and 21-year-old Stevenson emerges victorious, he will find himself a few steps ahead of Conlan on the ladder and his calls for a fight with IBF champion Josh Warrington will hold a lot more weight.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie