Shakur Stevenson’s Upcoming Fight and Uncertain Future with Top Rank

By Dan Ambrose - 04/11/2024 - Comments

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has confirmed WBC lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson’s contract with his company expires on July 6th in his title defense at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Arum says he hopes to maintain a relationship with the three-division world champion Stevenson (21-0, 10 KOs), but he says it’s “business.” He’s not saying if Shakur will re-up for another hitch with Top Rank or move on to another promotional company.

Obviously, Shakur’s performance on July 6th could affect whether Arum looks to re-sign him. Stevenson, 26, was booed nonstop in his last fight against Edwin De Los Santos in November of last year at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas due to his safety-first fighting style.

Although Shakur blamed his performance on injuries, he fought in the same hit-and-not-be-hit manner in many of his other fights, and it was not entertaining.

Contract Expiring, Free Agency Looms

“Shakur is fighting on July 6th in New Jersey at the Prudential Center. We’ll announce the opponent relatively shortly, and we had a great run with Shakur. He’s an incredible fighter with incredible skills, but our contract is over with the July 6th fight,” said Bob Arum to Fight Hub TV about WBC lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson’s next fight date.

Arum isn’t saying who the opponent will be for Shakur on July 6th, but it’s been rumored that he’ll be fighting the recently beaten Artem Harutyunyan.

Boxing fans on social media have criticized that choice, pointing out that Artem is coming off a loss to Frank Martin last July. Some people believe that Top Rank is giving Shakur a soft touch as a gift to entice him to re-sign.

The other belief is Top Rank didn’t want to provide Shakur with one of their top talents like Raymond Muratalla or Emanuel Navarrete, believing that he’ll likely leave for another promotional company.

“Hopefully, we’ll maintain our relationship with Shakur and continue that, but he’s a free agent after the July 6th fight. So, we’ll see how that all plays out. The guys at the office told me that who they selected for Shakur is a really good fighter,” said Arum.

Arum’s above comment about going to “maintain our relationship” with Shakur almost sounds like goodbye. When hear something like that, it sends alarm bells that it’s over.

Eyes on Unification, Post-Free Agency

So, again, after July 6th, we’ll take a look to see what they could see to do a unification fight, which is what it will be,” said Arum about a hoped-for unification clash between Shakur and the winner of the May 12th fight between Vasily Lomachenko and George Kambosos Jr. Those two are fighting for the vacant IBF lightweight title.
“Shakur will clearly be a free agent after the July 6th fight.”

Shakur really wants a fight with Lomachenko, but the feelings aren’t mutual. Lomachenko likely doesn’t want to fight another runner like in his last fight against Devin Haney, where he chased the much younger and far bigger opponent around the ring all night. It was a sight to see.

The much smaller Lomachenko is chasing Haney, who looked around 160 lbs. that night. At Loma’s age, he doesn’t want to be fight guys that are going to run the way Shakur would be doing.

“We hope to continue promoting his fights, but he is a free agent. That doesn’t mean he’s an enemy or anything like that,” said Arum about Shakur. “Sports is a business. I really believe Shakur has developed into one of the great fighters of our era, and I really believe that if you put him with Zepeda, who is a good fighter, but not a great fighter, it’s a non contest.

“What I resented is Oscar after the Zepeda fight, maybe because of over-enthusiasm, had no intention of fighting Shakur. I don’t blame Zepeda because he knows he can’t beat Shakur,” said Arum.

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