With news earlier today that WBO bantamweight titleholder Zolani Tete has suffered a shoulder injury, his World Boxing Super Series semifinal and title unification fight with WBA titleholder Nonito Donaire has been canceled.
Donaire, however, is still fighting on Saturday, and still in the tournament. He’ll instead be facing Stephon Young (18-1-3, 7 KO), which was the contingency plan for an injury — not one anyone wanted to see have to be used, but the plans are there for just these unfortunate circumstances.
“I was walking in circles for ten minutes eyes full of tears of joy. I felt amazing with the news,“ said Young after receiving the news today. “It’s a real dream come true to be in this position.”
He’s promising to give it his all to get the upset, which would, of course, be an even bigger game-changer for him.
“It doesn’t matter who I fight. I’m coming in to win versus anyone I step in there with,” he said. “My mindset is strong. I have the utmost respect for Nonito. He is a great fighter and from what I see he’s a classy fighter outside the ring as well. I feel I will handle the big stage quite well and I rate my chances very, very good.”
So who is Stephon Young?
Young is a 30-year-old St. Louis-born fighter nicknamed “Showstopper,” who built a 13-0-1 record against low-level opposition before facing Cleveland’s Antonio Nieves in June 2015, a matchup of unbeaten prospects at the time on the Andre Ward-Paul Smith card in Oakland.
That fight went to a draw over eight rounds. In April 2016, Young faced another unbeaten prospect, Nikolay Potapov, in a 10-round ShoBox main event. That fight also went to a draw, and Bad Left Hook had it even, too, at 95-95. Here’s what we said then:
“This is a fight that wound up a draw and there’s just no controversy whatsoever. Both guys had their moments, but nobody really took control of the fight. ... To be perfectly honest, neither of these fighters looked like future contenders at bantamweight. If I were to pick who I think has the higher upside, it’s Stephon Young. ... Young had a bit more to his game, stuff that maybe can be refined and make him a more complete fighter.”
After the draw with Potapov, young rattled off three more lower-tier wins before facing Reymart Gaballo for the interim WBA bantamweight title in March 2018 in Hollywood, Florida. Young was down in the third round and Gaballo went on to win a wide decision on scores of 117-110, 117-110, and 118-109.
In his last outing, Young won a 10-round decision against Wilner Soto in Orlando. That fight was on a World Boxing Super Series show, which featured the Rodriguez-Moloney and Dorticos-Masternak tournament bouts.
Young has been training and was scheduled to fight on Saturday, so physically he’ll be as prepared as he’s going to get. He was originally tasked with a rematch against Potapov, but that fell through and he was then set to face replacement opponent Daniel Lozano (15-6, 11 KO), who was coming in on short notice after back-to-back losses to Ricardo Espioza and Joshua Greer Jr.
But now Young has the chance of a lifetime, by far the biggest opportunity of his boxing career. Odds are that Donaire (39-5, 25 KO) is going to be too much for him, but the winner will have the WBA bantamweight title and a spot in the tournament finals. Young wasn’t on track to get this sort of chance in boxing, but he’s got it now.
The show will air on DAZN this Saturday at 8 pm ET.