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Shakur Stevenson defends against Robson Conceicao on September 23 on ESPN

Image: Shakur Stevenson defends against Robson Conceicao on September 23 on ESPN

By Craig Daly: Shakur Stevenson will be making a defense of his WBC/WBO super featherweight titles three months from now against #2 Robson Conceição on September 23rd in the headliner on ESPN in Newark, New Jersey.

The 2016 Olympic gold medalist Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs) is fighting for the second time since losing a questionable 12-round unanimous decision against former WBC super featherweight champion Oscar Valdez last September in Tucson, Arizona.

Despite the Brazilian Conceição, 33, appearing to out-box Valdez the entire way, the judges scored it for the champion by this margin: 117-110, 115-112, and 115-112.

In reaction to the decision, many boxing fans on social complained about the results, feeling that Conceição had done enough to rate the victory.

Surprisingly, Valdez chose not to give Conceição a rematch and instead took on Shakur Stevenson last April and lost by a one-sided 12-round unanimous decision.

A lot of the things that Conceição had exposed in Valdez’s game, Shakur took full advantage of in boxing circles around the slower fighter, making him look bad.

Stevenson, 24, is slowing his career down by choosing to remain at 130 to attempt to become the undisputed champion in the weight class.

Shakur still needs to defeat WBA 130-lb champion Roger Gutierrez and IBF champion Joe Cordina to become undisputed at super-featherweight. This move by Stevenson to stay at 130 instead of moving up to 135 will eat up a year or more of his career.

Shakur’s promoter Bob Arum wisely pointed out that the champions he needs to fight at super featherweight to accomplish his goal aren’t household names, and it’s not going to attract a lot of interest in fighting them.

In other words, Stevenson will be winning paper titles equivalent to being given a worthless ribbon. It might mean something to Stevenson, but it will not translate to increased popularity or more fantastic purses.

Suppose Shakur was to move up the lightweight division right now. In that case, he could pursue fights against undisputed 135-lb champion Devin Haney, WBA ‘regular’ champion Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis, Ryan Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko, and Rolando ‘Rolly’ Romero.

Grabbing the undisputed lightweight championship from Haney would make Shakur a star overnight, opening the door for him to face Tank, Ryan, Lomachenko, and the other top names in the 135-lb division.

On the other side of the coin, if Shakur stubbornly insists on staying at 130 to try and achieve his goal of becoming the undisputed champion, it’ll take him a year, possibly two, to get those fights made, and he’ll have very little to show for it afterward.

Casual boxing fans in the U.S have never heard of the British fighter Joe Cordina or the WBA belt holder Roger Gutierrez, and they won’t be appreciative of Shakur beating both guys.

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