By Huck Allen: Shakur Stevenson and Shuichiro Yoshino have a deal in the works for April 8th in a WBC lightweight title eliminator to decide the mandatory for undisputed champion Devin Haney. The Top Rank-promoted Stevenson’s fight with Yoshino will be shown on ESPN.
Casual boxing fans in the U.S. won’t be too excited at hearing Shakur fight Yoshino because they’ll not have heard of the Japanese fighter. They want to see Shakur fight these killers from the lightweight division:
- Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis
- Frank Martin
- Devin Haney
- Ryan Garcia
- Vasyl Lomachenko
- Isaac Cruz
- William Zepeda
Yoshino (16-0, 12 KOs) is the fourth fighter that the WBC has asked to take the fight with the undefeated former two-division world champion Shakur (19-0, 9 KOs) after Isaac ‘Pitbull’ Cruz, William Zepeda, and former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr all turned down the fight.
According to Mike Coppinger, who is reporting the news of Stevenson fighting the 31-yer-old Yoshino next, ‘Pitbull’ Cruz is going in a different direction, Zepeda’s promoters at Golden Boy want the Shakur fight to marinate before making it in the future, and Kambosos Jr is on holiday with family after his two losses to Haney in 2022.
Some fans think Golden Boy doesn’t want to have the popular Zepeda walk the plank and lose to Stevenson and have his career ruined before it’s even effectively begun.
The 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Haney, 25, is just happy to be finally getting an opponent for the WBC 135-lb eliminator to lock himself in as the mandatory to fight for the belt.
With Haney expected to vacate his four titles and move up to 140 after he faces Vasyl Lomachenko next, the Stevenson vs. Yoshino winner will wind up facing the next available willing contender in the World Boxing Council’s rankings to battle for the vacant WBA 135-lb belt.
“Shakur Stevenson and Shuichiro Yoshino are finalizing a deal for an April 8 fight that is expected to determine a new mandatory challenger for the WBC lightweight title,” said Mike Coppinger to ESPN.
Yoshino has recent wins over fringe lightweight contender Masayoshi Nakatani and former WBO super featherweight champion Masayuki Ito in 2022. Those are the only two notable names on Yoshino’s eight-year professional resume. The other 14 opponents Yoshino has beaten have been obscure guys in Japan.
Shakur is coming off a 12 round unanimous decision victory over Robson Conceicao last September in Newark, New Jersey. In that fight, Stevenson lost his WBC & WBO 130-lbtitles on the sccares when he weighed in at 131.6 lbs.
Although Shakur won the fight, he still lost his belt because he came in over the 130-lb super featherweight weigh-in limit.