With Miguel Berchelt out of a planned Dec. 12 ESPN fight against Oscar Valdez, Shakur Stevenson is offering to step in and face Valdez on five weeks’ notice, ESPN reports.
Valdez (28-0, 22 KO) was ordered to defend the WBO featherweight title against Stevenson (14-0, 8 KO) in 2019, but chose instead to vacate and move up in weight, chasing the fight with WBC 130-pound titlist Berchelt. Stevenson would win the vacant WBO featherweight title against Joet Gonzalez, and vacated it earlier this year without making a defense (though he planned to make one in March before COVID shut the sport down).
After a water-tester fight at 130 in June, Stevenson vacated the WBO title and officially moved to the junior lightweight division. He feels Valdez simply doesn’t like the matchup against him:
“I’m not saying he’s scared or anything, but I don’t think he likes my style, I think my style is too much for him. I feel like right now it’s the perfect opportunity to fight him. Valdez has been in full training camp preparing for Berchelt, but I don’t think he should have to wait.”
The 23-year-old Stevenson making the challenge is bold, but it’s unlikely it will be accepted. There could very well be an element of Valdez, 29, not liking the matchup, but there’s also simply the fact that Valdez does have that WBC title shot with Berchelt waiting for him in early 2021 at some point. Risking that to fight Stevenson — which is a very good fight at worst, mind you — probably just doesn’t make sense. Berchelt-Valdez hadn’t yet been made 100 percent official, but it was totally expected. Berchelt is dealing with COVID, not a training injury or the like. The fight with Valdez figures to be rescheduled in the first quarter of the new year, knock on wood.
As for Stevenson, this is at least a better idea than him also recently publicly challenging Abner Mares. It’s clear he wants to get a fight by January or so, and that part is good to see.