Stevenson: ‘Me and Devin {Haney}, we could lock-in’

Former unified junior lightweight champion Shakur Stevenson(WBC/WBO) dominated the 130-pound division, but all good things must come to an end. While Stevenson has never lost to an opponent, he did lose to the scale as he could not make 130 pounds during Thursday’s weigh-in, and the titles were vacated.

However, the fight went on, and in front of a record crowd of 10,107 partisan fans, the largest crowd ever to attend a boxing event at Prudential Center, Stevenson dropped and dominated Robson Conceição for 12 rounds and won by unanimous decision. 

The Newark native won by scores of 117-109(2x) and 118-108.

Stevenson(19-0, 9 KOs) made it his business to go to the body, and he landed a career-high 75 body shots, including a body shot knockdown in the fourth. Overall, Stevenson landed a career-high 199 punches. It was an easy night for the former unified champion. He did lose a point in the ninth round for throwing down Conceicao(17-2, 8 KOs), which really was the only drama Stevenson dealt with all night, but now it’s time for bigger and better as he is going up to 135 pounds. 

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 23: Robson Conceição (L) and Shakur Stevenson (R) exchange punches during their WBC and WBO junior lightweight championship fight at Prudential Center on September 23, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

After the fight, Stevenson, who was 1.6 pounds overweight, discussed how hard it was for him to make weight this week. 

“I had a long week,” he said. “I killed myself to make weight. All I want to do is come in here and perform. I did everything I could to do that,” Stevenson said. “I’m just a dominating individual. With me versus him, the ref, I did everything I could to try and beat {Conceicao} up as much as I could. He held me the whole night, but I did everything I could.”

Two things are clear, Stevenson is definitely a draw in Newark, and he will be tough to beat for anybody at 135.

“We gotta fight the champ,’ he said. “Me and Devin {Haney}, we could lock-in. After he fights Kambosos, let’s get it on! ‘ll fight (Vasiliy) Lomachenko, too!” 

Those fights can be made, especially Loma, who returns on October 29 against Jamaine Ortiz. Regarding the king of the 135-pound division, Haney, he’s a bigger lightweight, so if he beats Kambosos, who knows how long he’ll stay at 135, but if it happens, it’s a great fight. 

Again, it’s hard to imagine anyone beating Stevenson at this point. He just knows how to win rounds, but those guys he called out won’t be easy nights.

Shakur Stevenson: ‘I’m really focused on putting in the work on Friday night’

Shakur Stevenson is two days away from the ultimate homecoming. The WBC/WBO/Ring Magazine junior lightweight king will defend his belts Friday evening against Robson Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs) at Prudential Center. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is a Newark native who is fighting at home as a world champion for the first time.

Before Stevenson and Conceição took the mic, the Mayor’s Office of the City of Newark presented Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) with a proclamation declaring September 21, 2022, as Shakur Stevenson Day in the city. That was followed up by special plaque from Quitman Street School students, Stevenson attended Quitman Street for elementary school, and the building sits less than a mile from Prudential Center.

In the eight-round lightweight co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (5-0, 4 KOs) steps up in class against Omar Tienda (25-5, 18 KOs).

At Wednesday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Shakur Stevenson

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“Honestly, I’m just ready to fight. I’m not really focused on the pressure. I don’t care about all that. I’m really focused on putting in the work on Friday night. I’m just ready to fight at the end of the day. All I can think about is fighting and performing. That’s everything that’s on my mind.”

“He’s a good fighter. But I think he lost against Valdez. If you left it in the judges’ hands, then you lost. I fought Valdez, and I beat the s*** out of him. I don’t have any excuses. He’s talking about having COVID or something before his last fight. All I hear are excuses. I’m ready to fight. Tell him to not have any excuses on Friday night. I’m ready to beat him up.”

“I never leave it in the hands of the judges. I go in there and take everything that I want.”

Robson Conceição

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“It was very touching for me to be welcomed by my community here. Yes, I understand that Shakur is a native, but I also feel right at home here.”

“I’m very motivated. I’ve trained all my life for this moment. The world was able to see that I was better than Oscar Valdez. I should have won. So, he’s not really defending two titles because one should have been mine. I’m a champion without a crown, and I’m ready for Friday night.”

“Shakur is someone that I really respect. He’s a great athlete. I can tell that he’s young, probably overly excited and speaks a little too much. This coming Friday, there will only be one champ, and that champ is me.”

Keyshawn Davis

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“Keyshawn is going to be Keyshawn and he’s going to have fun in there. The talent that Shakur and I have is extraordinary. We both get to show our talent back to back. Just like I said last time in Las Vegas when I fought alongside him, the fans are going to be the winners at the end of the night. And that’s definitely what happened. We’re definitely looking forward to just giving the fans what they came out and paid for.”

“Is he my toughest opponent yet? I don’t know. I’m going to wait and see. I’m hoping that it’s a great fight for me so that I can keep learning and developing. I’m more than prepared for this fight both mentally and physically.”

Omar Tienda

“I’m happy to be in the co-feature of an event of his caliber. I’m excited and happy to be able to come here and do my job. What do we bring that may be different? Well, obviously experience, hard work and strength. We will also bring big surprises for the entire night.”

“You all know why I have ‘The Heroe’ as my nickname. I worked 13 years in emergency rescue, doing different kinds of rescues internationally. Not only in 2008, but in 2010, 2014 and the last one in 2016. They have been very important rescues in which lives are at risk, where we know that we have to go in there and work and where we don’t know if we’ll be returning to see our families.”

“So, for me, this is about working, enjoyment and happiness. We’ve come to score the upset and the name of ‘The Heroe’ will ring once more.”

Bruce Carrington

“Being on Top Rank boxing is the best move that I’ve ever made. I’m happy to be a part of this team. The sky is the limit, and I’m ready to continue proving myself. I just want to step into the ring and showcase my talent so that everybody can see what I’m capable of doing. Top Rank is the place to be for you to be able to showcase that.”

Jahi Tucker

“I just want to thank God for the opportunity to be here. This is a testament to all the hard work we’ve done, and this Friday we’re going to show all the hard work. This means the world to me.”

Robson Conceição defeats Xavier Martinez by unanimous decision

Robson Conceição did not experience a world title defeat hangover. Less than five months removed from a close decision loss to WBC super featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez, Conceição earned a one-sided decision over the previously undefeated Xavier Martinez in a 10-round WBC super featherweight title eliminator Saturday evening at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa.

Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs), ranked No. 3 by the WBC, won by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92. He outlanded Martinez (17-1, 11 KOs) in each of the final five rounds.

After the fight, Conceição called out for a rematch against Valdez.

“I learned a lot from that Oscar Valdez loss, and that’s why I was able to dedicate myself,” Conceição said. “I wasn’t discouraged by what happened that evening. I know who I am, and I knew if I put in the work, I could have this type of performance. But my mind is set on Valdez, and I definitely want that shot.

“To be honest, I think Xavier Martinez punches harder than Oscar Valdez. I felt his punches, but I know this is the type of fight I needed to prepare myself because I’m a world champion level fighter. And I definitely want Oscar Valdez.”

Martinez had pockets of success, stunning Conceição in the fourth and ninth rounds. But the heavy blows were few and far between, as the 2016 Brazilian Olympic gold medalist ultimately showed his class.

Martinez said, “I thought it was closer. I know I didn’t do enough to win. I sat back too much. I didn’t listen to the game plan fully. It is what it is. I’m not going to be a sore loser. He did his thing tonight. It wasn’t my night. I’m not done. This is just the beginning.”

Cabrera Cruises Past Giron

Giovanni Cabrera (19-0, 7 KOs), who is trained by Freddie Roach, authored a one-sided boxing exhibition with a unanimous decision over Rene Tellez Giron (16-2, 10 KOs) in the eight-round junior welterweight co-feature (scores: 77-75 and 78-74 2x). Cabrera, from Chicago, returned to action for the first time since 2019 and ended Giron’s three-bout winning streak.

Giron rose to prominence with his 2019 knockout win over Karlos Balderas, but he showed up five pounds overweight Friday for his originally scheduled showdown against Luis Melendez. He was then matched with Cabrera, who weighed in at 138.6 and hopes to campaign as a lightweight moving forward.

Cabrera outlanded Giron, 141-122, and pulled away on the judges’ cards down the stretch.

In undercard action:

Middleweight Nico Ali Walsh (4-0, 3 KOs) returned to the venue where he made his pro debut last August and once again scored a devastating stoppage. Ali Walsh took care of Jeremiah Yeager (1-2-1, 1 KO) in the second round, knocking him down for the first time with a right-left combination.

Just before the second knockdown, Ali Walsh broke out his grandfather’s patented Ali Shuffle and finished things off with a left hook.

Ali Walsh said, “I think the main thing was staying calm, which I did. Another thing was head movement and defense, which I felt like I did improve on. I fought last month, so if I can make those small improvements in this such a short amount of time, who’s telling what I can do in my next fight?
 
“I didn’t plan {the Ali Shuffle}. It was emotional, of course. So much has been going on, but yeah, I didn’t plan on doing that. It’s just something that happened.”

Cleveland-born welterweight Tiger Johnson (2-0 1 KO), who represented the U.S. at the Tokyo Olympics last year, lived up to his blue chip billing with a one-sided, four-round decision over Xavier Madrid (3-1, 1 KO). All three judges scored it 40-36 for Johnson, who had Madrid stunned on a few occasions in the fourth. The Albuquerque native fired back and saw the final bell.

St. Louis-born heavyweight Stephan Shaw (16-0, 12 KOs) shined in his Top Rank debut, stopping Philadelphia’s Joey Dawejko (21-10-4, 12 KOs) in the eighth round. Shaw never had Dawejko seriously hurt, but referee Gerald Ritter stopped the fight on the advice of Dawejko’s corner. 

Featherweight sensation Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (2-0, 1 KO), from Brownsville, Brooklyn, knocked out Steven Brown (1-1, 1 KO) in the second round with a devastating offensive assault. Carrington pinned Brown to the ropes and unloaded with four clean shots. The final blow, a left uppercut, crumpled Brown to the canvas.

Carla Torres (7-6) used her pinpoint accuracy to edge Pink Tyson (11-3, 2 KOs) via eight-round majority decision in a junior lightweight affair. The scorecards read as follows: 76-76, 77-75 and 80-72.

Featherweight prospect Haven Brady Jr. (5-0, 3 KOs) went the six-round distance for the first time as a pro, shutting out Mexican veteran Diuhl Olguin (15-21-5, 10 KOs) by identical scores of 60-54.

Light heavyweight Dante Benjamin Jr. (1-0, 1 KO) had a successful pro debut, knocking out Emany Rendon (2-1) at 2:05 of the opening round. Benjamin knocked Rendon down twice, ending the fight with a short left hook.

Photo: Mikey Williams / Top Rank via Getty Images

Oscar Valdez-Robson Conceição set for 9/10 in Arizona

 WBC super featherweight world champion Oscar Valdez authored a title-winning knockout for the ages in February over Miguel Berchelt. For his encore — and the first defense of his title — the undefeated two-time Mexican Olympian will make his desert homecoming.

Valdez (29-0, 23 KOs) will look to make it 30 for 30 against undefeated 2016 Brazilian Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição on Friday, Sept. 10 from the AVA Amphitheater at Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona.

A native of Nogales, Mexico, Valdez moved to Tucson as a young child and spent his elementary school years there before returning to Mexico.

In the 10-round co-feature, undefeated junior lightweight star Gabriel Flores Jr., from Stockton, California, will fight Mexican veteran Luis Alberto Lopez. Valdez-Conceição and Flores Jr.-Lopez will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Oscar Valdez is coming off a career-best performance and wants to put on a spectacular showing in front of the great Tucson fans,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “Conceição has been waiting for this shot ever since he turned pro, and having promoted him for his entire career, I know he’ll be at his very best. We have a great co-feature, as the young Flores wants to prove he is a contender to watch, and he can do that by beating a tough Mexican in Luis Alberto Lopez.”

Valdez cemented his status as one of the faces of Mexican boxing with his 10th-round knockout over longtime champion Berchelt. He is 8-0 in world title fights, including six defenses of the WBO featherweight world title he won in July 2016. Valdez and Conceição fought as amateurs in the gold medal match of the 2009 Pan American Games, with Conceição prevailing by a single point. Valdez turned pro nearly four years before Conceição (16-0, 8 KOs), who made history as the first Brazilian boxer to capture Olympic gold. A native of Bahia, Conceição made his pro debut in November 2016 on the Manny Pacquiao-Jessie Vargas undercard and knocked out four of his first five foes. Last October, he survived an early knockdown to edge Louie Coria by unanimous decision. He last fought April 10 in Tulsa and knocked out Jesus Antonio Ahumada in the seventh round.

“I am very excited to fight in my second home, Tucson, Arizona, where I will have my first defense of the WBC super featherweight world title,” Valdez said. “It motivates me to know that I will defend the title in front of my friends and my family, and I will be willing to put it on the line as in all my fights. I’m coming to give a great show to my people, and I can’t wait to see you on Sept. 10.”

Conceição said, “I’ve been waiting my whole life for this opportunity, and that’s why I’m training with great determination. I will represent my family and Brazil. I already won a gold medal for my country and now I will bring home a world title. With great determination, I will deliver a great performance. It will be a true spectacle!”

Flores (20-0, 7 KOs) made history in 2017 when, at 16 years old, he became the youngest fighter ever to sign a promotional contract with Top Rank. He went 3-0 in 2020, including a shutout decision over Matt Conway on the Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury II undercard. Flores performed three times inside the MGM Grand Las Vegas Bubble, punctuated by a sixth-round stoppage over former world title challenger Jayson Velez in February. Lopez (22-2, 12 KOs), from Mexicali, Mexico, has won five straight bouts since a 2019 decision loss to Ruben Villa. He notched his signature win last July with a split decision over Andy Vences.

“This is the next step in my journey towards a world title, and I will convincingly defeat Lopez,” Flores said. “I’m going to prove once again that I’m ready for the next level.”

Lopez said, “I appreciate matchmaker Brad Goodman and Top Rank for the opportunity to fight Gabriel Flores Jr. I know he’ll be prepared to give everything on Sept. 10, but so am I, and I guarantee nothing but my very best. I’m a man of few words, and I’ll let my actions do the talking inside the ring.”

The undercard, streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+, will feature Japan’s undefeated WBO flyweight world champion Junto Nakatani (21-0, 16 KOs) defending his title against Puerto Rican former world champion Angel “Tito” Acosta (22-2, 21 KOs). Nakatani, who has never fought outside of Japan, knocked out Filipino contender Giemel Magramo in eight rounds last November to win the vacant world title. A former Japanese flyweight champion, Nakatani has won four straight bouts by stoppage. Acosta, who made three successful defenses of the WBO light flyweight crown, has won two fights since a debated 12th-round stoppage at the hands of Elwin Soto. Acosta was leading on all three scorecards when he was stopped on his feet early in the round.

The ESPN+ undercard will also see undefeated Puerto Rican sensation Xander Zayas (9-0, 7 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight bout against an opponent to be named and lightweight sensation Raymond Muratalla (12-0, 10 KOs) in an eight-rounder.

Also scheduled to appear in eight-round bouts: 2016 Mexican Olympian and junior welterweight prospect Lindolfo Delgado (12-0, 11 KOs), rising junior lightweight René Telléz Girón (15-1, 9 KOs) and Mexican junior welterweight knockout artist Omar Aguilar (21-0, 20 KOs).