Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez come together in a welcome clash between the best two fighters
in the super-featherweight division. As always, though, there are subplots to consider, writes Elliot Worsell
WITH a combined professional record of 47-0, super-featherweights Óscar Valdez and Shakur Stevenson meet this Saturday (April 30) in Las Vegas fuelled by the blissful ignorance that chaperones most fighters towards risky business.
Though both have suffered setbacks, as amateurs, their pro careers have so far been relatively straightforward – demonstrated by Valdez winning 30 fights in a row (23 by knockout) and Stevenson winning 17 (9). Added to that, the pair enter this weekend’s fight with one belt apiece (Valdez has the WBC super-featherweight belt; Stevenson has the WBO) and a desire for something greater than shared spoils in the super-featherweight division. Furthermore, with Stevenson ranked number one in the weight class, and Valdez at two, the winner will be recognised by Boxing News as the world champ.
If on a collision course, the Valdez and Stevenson one has been brief, a credit to both. After all, as pawns in a sport that often encourages the swerving of rivals, it would have been quite easy for Valdez and Stevenson to ignore one another and focus only on their ability to argue and boast in a louder voice. That they haven’t gone down that route speaks to not only their confidence and ambition but also, in truth, a lack of alternative options in the 130-pound weight class.
As shallow a division as any, while Valdez and Stevenson are considered the best at the weight, there is an almighty chasm between them and the rest. It therefore makes sense for them to get together and cut to the chase. Moreover, it makes sense to do this now, at a time when both have momentum, not to mention plans to one day move up in weight and achieve greatness elsewhere.
First, though, they must clean house. Or, in other words, before either can dream of becoming a pound-for-pound superstar, Valdez and Stevenson must first exhibit their dominance at super-featherweight (as opposed to merely grabbing some gold and using boxing’s bizarre reward system to take turns calling themselves ‘champion’ in the same division). This is what hopefully happens this weekend in Sin City and should it – should clarity be achieved – we will have exchanged two potential stars for one potential superstar.