Shakur Stevenson’s expected next opponent is now next-level confirmed and just shy of being officially official, as Mike Coppinger reports at ESPN.com that Stevenson will indeed make his move to the lightweight division against Shuichiro Yoshino on April 8.
Stevenson, who has won titles at featherweight and junior lightweight, said this week that Yoshino was his expected opponent, after he tried and was unable to make fights against Isaac Cruz, William Zepeda, and George Kambosos Jr.
Stevenson said that his target was the WBC belt, and it’s likely that his fight with Yoshino will be sanctioned as an eliminator. The sanctioning body had ordered Stevenson vs Cruz in that role, but the Cruz side passed on the fight, and Yoshino is basically next in line at this point.
Stevenson (19-0, 9 KO) expressed his respect for Yoshino (16-0, 12 KO), who is an entertaining fighter and has wins over Masayuki Ito and Masayoshi Nakatani in his last two outings.
“We’ve gotta rate him off of his performance against Nakatani, being that Nakatani went 12 rounds with Teofimo, then he fought Lomachenko,” Stevenson said.
“We know he’s got power, we know he’s tough, and for him to beat that dude — and he beat Ito. It let us know he’s solid.”
If you’re looking for something of a scouting report, the 31-year-old Yoshino is tough and can crack, and he can also take a pretty good shot. He’s a credible opponent for sure, but speed-wise, skill-wise, craft-wise, he will have some major disadvantages against Stevenson, so long as Shakur isn’t surprisingly unable to handle fighting at 135 lbs.
For schedule-watchers, this one currently would be going head-to-head against DAZN’s Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez vs Cristian Gonzalez card from San Antonio, but basically that’s just the way the cookie crumbles and all that. There will continue to be lots of Saturday nights where we have two or even occasionally three cards running at the same time, then Saturdays where nobody has anything, really.