After testing the waters in June, Shakur Stevenson will stay at 130lbs and relinquish his WBO featherweight title after a fight with fellow champion Josh Warrington failed to materialise.
The slick New Jersey southpaw knocked out Felix Caraballo in a super-featherweight bout last month to lead boxing’s return to action following the intervention of the Covid-19 Pandemic. Stevenson had stated he would move to 130lbs permanently if he had been unable to secure a unification fight with rival IBF champion Warrington. Ultimately, difficulties in making the weight prompted the move up in poundage.
“I just didn’t want to keep making the weight,” Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) told Steve Kim of ESPN.com. “I think I should be in the rankings to fight for a title [at 130lbs] ASAP. I think I deserve it.
“I want [WBA Super champion] Leo Santa Cruz. It seems all the [other] belt holders are occupied with opponents. But I really want Santa Cruz, though. They know I’m coming for them. They see I’m on the way.”
Stevenson was supposedly willing to fight Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) in the IBF champion’s hometown of Leeds but was unhappy with the purse on offer. With Warrington seemingly destined to face either WBA Regular featherweight champion Can Xu, or even IBF mandatory challenger and former nemesis Kid Galahad, Stevenson moved up in weight.
“You know what? Warrington didn’t want the fight to happen,” Antonio Leonard, Stevenson’s co-promoter, told ESPN.com. “Because we gave him all the opportunity. He didn’t even start acting like he wanted to fight Shakur until he seen we might go up to 130. He didn’t want to fight Shakur.
“We’re putting all those guys on notice at 130. They can bring the belt, vacate them, because Shakur’s going to whup everybody – it don’t matter who it is. We’re taking on all comers.”
Warrington’s side of the story will inevitably be different.
WBO super-bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete may now move up in weight to contest the 126lbs crown vacated by Stevenson.