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BOXING – Valdez faces the thriving Stevenson in a duel of super featherweight champions

In a clash of undefeated champions, Mexico’s Oscar Valdez and American Shakur Stevenson will square off on Saturday in a highly anticipated super featherweight title unification bout in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The experienced Valdez, 31, is the current 130-pound (59 kg) champion of the World Boxing Council (WBC), with an immaculate record of 30-0 with 23 knockouts.

Stevenson, 24, is the emerging figure in the division and already holds the World Boxing Organization (WBO) belt with a record of 17-0 with nine knockouts.

A victory against the young Stevenson in the ring of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas would provide important recognition to Valdez’s career, who aspires to have a place among the glories of Mexican boxing.

“I want my name to be next to the great Mexican champions, and this is the kind of fight that can put me there,” he said this week.

The boxer from Nogales (Sonora) is not intimidated by the talent of his rival or by the bets that give him as the loser of the fight.

“I want to make it clear that I am the best 130-pound boxer in the world,” he stressed.

Two-time Olympian with Mexico (Beijing-2008 and London-2012), Valdez won the WBC title by knocking out his compatriot Miguel Berchelt in February 2021.

In September he defended the crown with a points victory against the Brazilian Robson Conceiçao, Olympic lightweight champion in Rio-2016.

That fight was surrounded by controversy since, days before it was held, Valdez tested positive for phentermine, a prohibited stimulant.

The WBC and the Arizona Yaqui Athletic Commission, which supervised the fight in the city of Tucson, allowed him to box on the grounds that the substance did not give him any competitive advantage.

– “I am the best young boxer”

In the opposite corner of the ring will be Shakur Stevenson, the bantamweight silver medalist at the Rio 2016 Games.

The boxer from Newart (New Jersey) won the WBO super featherweight title in October by defeating his compatriot Jamel Herring by technical knockout in the tenth round.

That brilliant triumph established him as one of the great jewels of American boxing, a condition that he will have to endorse on Saturday in one of the most demanding exams of his career.

“I am the best young fighter in the world and I will become the unified champion,” Stevenson said.

To defeat Valdez, the American will need to go a step beyond distance control, his great specialty, and prevent the Mexican from having total control of the fight, the territory where he feels most comfortable.

The other super featherweight belts are owned by the Venezuelan Roger Gutiérrez, monarch of the World Boxing Association (WBA), and the Japanese Kenichi Ogawa, of the International Boxing Federation (IBF).

Saturday’s card in Las Vegas also includes the lightweight bout between Mexican Esteban Sánchez (18-1) and American Keyshawn Davis (4-0), silver medalist at the Tokyo 2020 Games.

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