Shakur Stevenson has won world titles at 126 and 130 lbs already in his young pro career, and now the 24-year-old Top Rank fighter is promising a “big surprise” for his next fight, with the idea that it will send a pound-for-pound sort of message:
My next opponent gone be a Big surprise.. P4P me pls— Shakur Stevenson (@ShakurStevenson) January 12, 2022
Stevenson (17-0, 9 KO) is coming off of a dominant win over Jamel Herring in October, a one-sided fight where his skill level was just a level (maybe two) beyond Herring, a good fighter who had enjoyed a solid title run at junior lightweight.
So what could Shakur have lined up?
As far as opponents who have been campaigning at 130, fellow titlist Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23 KO) is the obvious best and biggest choice. Stevenson has been chasing a Valdez fight since they were both at 126, and it hasn’t happened; Valdez went up to 130 when Stevenson was named his WBO mandatory at featherweight, and won the WBC belt a few fights later.
Valdez-Stevenson may be a “surprise” to those who think Top Rank or Valdez or whomever has been avoiding getting that fight done, but an in-house bout with Top Rank and ESPN doesn’t scream “big surprise.” I doubt anyone would be disappointed if that’s what we get, but is that what Shakur is hyping?
One idea would be another move up in weight, which could happen if Stevenson doesn’t feel like he’s going to get that fight with Valdez at 130. Stevenson moved up to 130 chasing bigger fights than he was going to be able to get at 126. We’ve seen Vasiliy Lomachenko do this in the past, going from 126 to 130 to 135 because he was running out of good opponents willing to fight him at the first two weights.
On that note, Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KO) himself would fit the bill for a jump to 135 for a “big surprise” fight. The 33-year-old Ukrainian has been a target of Shakur’s for years now, with the American truly believing he’d win the fight and prove his own greatness.
What about George Kambosos Jr? The three-belt lightweight titlist is planning a May return at an Australian stadium, and says he’s been having conversations with top names to travel for the fight.
Kambosos (20-0, 10 KO) is currently one of the hottest names in boxing, fully earned and deserved, but he’s also going to be seen — fair or not! — as an underdog against potential opponents like Devin Haney, Gervonta Davis, or Vasiliy Lomachenko. Maybe not Ryan Garcia, at least to some, but then a lot of people were convinced Luke Campbell was going to end the Garcia rise, and that didn’t happen.
Garcia seems focused on Isaac Cruz for the moment. Tank Davis is not going to fight off PBC PPV, that has been made extremely clear many times over; Mayweather Promotions have been open about that, they see Tank as the guy opponents have to come to if they want to fight him, he doesn’t go chase a fight elsewhere.
Stevenson is an extremely confident fighter. He may see a trip to Australia to take three belts from Kambosos as a worthy gamble, even given the general politics of boxing and what home field advantage can mean.
It would be a surprise, it would be a big fight, it would be something that would garner Stevenson wider pound-for-pound consideration. It fits the bill on paper. We’ll see what happens.