Shakur Stevenson has officially vacated his WBO featherweight title and has been installed as the No.1 contender for the sanctioning body’s 130lbs title, currently held by fellow American Jamel Herring.

Under WBO rules, any ruling champion who moves up in weight has the opportunity to be rated No.1 contender in their new division.

“On July 7, Shakur wrote to the WBO to notify this sanctioning body that he was having serious difficulties making the division’s 126-pound limit,” confirmed the WBO in a statement. “Because of this, he decided to move up in weight and requested to be ranked in the [130lbs] division, where Jamel Herring is the current WBO ruler.”

New Jersey southpaw Stevenson is one of the brightest talents in the game and had been in talks to face IBF champion Josh Warrington in a unification battle. His team claimed he was even happy to face Warrington on hostile territory in Leeds, but a financial agreement could not be reached. 

Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) led the return of boxing after the intervention of the Covid-19 pandemic, knocking out Felix Caraballo in six rounds in a non-title bout in June. His vacant 126lbs title is likely to be contested by former WBO super-bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete, who has also just moved up in weight, and Ireland’s No.1 contender Michael Conlan.

Herring defends his WBO 130lbs crown against Jonathan Oquendo on Tuesday night at ‘The Bubble’ in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. A postponed fight between Herring and two-weight champion Carl Frampton may be rescheduled for November