By Dan Ambrose: The WBC has ordered #2 Shakur Stevenson & #4 Frank ‘The Ghost’ Martin to battle for their vacant WBC lightweight title that champion Devin Haney has chosen to give up.
The former two-division world champion Shakur (20-0, 10 KOs) will be looking to capture his third division strap, which he hopes to transmute to a massive payday against Gervonta Davis in 2024.
It’s possible that Shakur will never get a fight against Tank, who is well-protected by Mayweather Promotions.
Moving up to 140 to pursue fights against Ryan Garcia, Haney & Teofimo Lopez would seem like the more logical move for Shakur, but he’s reluctant to do that. Shakur is willing to bide his time at 135, waiting & hoping for a fight with Tank Davis to happen at some point. If it never does, oh well.
ESPN reports that Vasyl Lomachenko, the #1 WBC contender, has chosen to pass on the fight for the vacant lightweight title, which has opened the door for Frank Martin (18-0, 13 KOs) to get a title shot finally.
Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs) will reportedly return to the ring next year to challenge for the WBC title. That’s the 26-year-old Shakur wants because he feels it’s a winnable one and will increase his popularity. Loma will be 36 in February and has shown sides of fading.
Frank Martin has difficult task
The defensive artist Shakur will be a difficult opponent for ‘The Ghost’ Martin to land on, but he’s got the power and the body punching style to potentially get the job done.
Martin has a recent twelve round unanimous decision win over Artem Harutyunyan last June in tougher than expected fight for ‘The Ghost.’ As much trouble as Martin had against Harutyunyan, he’s going to be in for a world of hurt against Shakur.
“The WBC has ordered two-division champion Shakur Stevenson and 18-0 Frank Martin to fight for their vacant lightweight title,” said Mark Kriegel to ESPN.
Can Frank Martin pull off an upset against Shakur Stevenson? It’s going to be tough for Martin to win this fight because Shakur, with his cat-like reflexes and his pull-back move that he uses to avoid shots, is almost impossible to hit.
The only guy who had success against Shakur was Cuban Robeisy Ramirez, who had to chase him around the ring to win a decision in the finals of the 2016 Olympics. Robeisy was literally chasing Shakur, which is why he was given the victory.
Martin will need to follow the blueprint created by Robeisy for him to have a shot at beating Shakur, who will be pulling back each time he’s pressured.
“There’s an ongoing conversation between Top Rank and PBC. That’s always fun. But if they can’t reach an agreement, there’s a purse bid scheduled for September 5,” Kriegel continued.
Shakur vs. Martin possible for November
“I don’t know where PBC would put the fight, but Top Rank is looking at Las Vegas in November to kick off the F1 Grand Prix weekend in Vegas. By the way, how we got here? After Haney beat Loma, Shakur was the [WBC] mandatory,” said Kriegel.
Martin isn’t the big fight that Shakur has been hoping for against Tank Davis and Lomachenko, but it’s the best he can get at 135.
If Shakur were willing to take chances with his career by moving up to 140, he’d have many more opportunities for big money fights, but he hasn’t shown any interest in taking that kind of risk.
It could be that Shakur has sparred with 140-pounders, noted how hard they punch, and decided it’s safer to stay at 135, where they don’t hit as hard.
“Lomachenko passed [on the option of fighting Shakur for the vacant WBC lightweight title]. Isaac Cruz is next up in the rankings. He apparently has a date with Tank Davis. Frank Martin is next in the rankings [at #4 WBC]. I think it’s a great fight,” said Kriegel.
“I think it’s a very interesting fight in a division where you obviously have Haney moving on,” said Joe Tessitore. “We heard Jared Anderson say yesterday that he would love to be on that fight card.
“All of the sports world will be focused on Vegas that week. That is one of the biggest international draws of a sporting event. They are shutting down Vegas for Formula One that week. This will be Shakur Stevenson going after the lightweight championship.”