Stevenson-Valdez: Judges, Referee Revealed For 130-Pound Title Unification Fight
BY KEITH IDEC
Published Tue Apr 26, 2022, 10:24 PM EDT
Two judges with whom Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez are familiar will officially score their fight Saturday night.
BoxingScene.com has learned that the Nevada State Athletic Commission assigned Nevada judges Tim Cheatham and Dave Moretti and Oklahoma’s David Sutherland to work their 12-round, 130-pound title unification fight at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Nevada’s Kenny Bayless has been chosen as the referee who’ll officiate their fight.
Moretti has scored four of Stevenson’s past five fights and three of Valdez’s previous four bouts. Cheatham has worked one Stevenson and Valdez bout apiece since June 2019.
Sutherland hasn’t scored any fights in which Stevenson or Valdez participated.
Moretti most recently scored Stevenson a 120-107 winner over Jeremiah Nakathila last June 12 at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas. Stevenson won all 12 rounds on each scorecard that night and dropped Namibia’s Nakathila during the fourth round.
Cheatham and Moretti each had Stevenson in front by wide margins – 50-43 and 50-44, respectively – when the undefeated southpaw knocked out Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo in the sixth round of their June 2020 match at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. A year earlier, Cheatham credited Valdez for winning 10 of 12 rounds against American Jason Sanchez, who was knocked down during the fifth round and lost 118-109 according to Cheatham at Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Two fights later, however, Moretti had Valdez ahead by a slimmer margin, 85-84, than two other judges before he knocked out Puerto Rico’s Jayson Velez in the 10th round of their July 2020 bout at MGM Grand Conference Center. Patricia Morse Jarman (89-80) and Steve Weisfeld (88-81) had Valdez in front more comfortably before he sent Velez to the canvas twice in the 10th round and ended their fight with 37 seconds remaining in it.
Bayless has officiated one fight apiece for Stevenson and Valdez.
The 24-year-old Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Newark, New Jersey, and the 31-year-old Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs), of Nogales, Mexico, will fight for Stevenson’s WBO junior lightweight title and Valdez’s WBC super featherweight crown. ESPN will televise Stevenson-Valdez as the main event of a three-bout broadcast scheduled to start at 10 p.m. ET.
Caesars Sportsbook lists Stevenson as nearly a 6-1 favorite to defeat Valdez.
Canelo 'Surprised' Oscar Valdez Underestimated Again Ahead Of Shakur Stevenson Fight
BY KEITH IDEC
Published Wed Apr 27, 2022, 08:24 AM EDT
Shakur Stevenson obviously is a more complete fighter than Miguel Berchelt was in his prime.
Stevenson’s diverse skill set, which was fully displayed during his 10th-round stoppage of Jamel Herring in his last fight, has made him a heavy favorite over Oscar Valdez. Canelo Alvarez is still surprised Valdez’s doubters haven’t given him more respect in advance of the unbeaten WBC super featherweight champion’s title unification fight versus Stevenson.
The younger, skillful Stevenson is listed by most sportsbooks as at least a 5-1 favorite to defeat Valdez in a main event ESPN will air April 30 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Berchelt was installed as a 4-1 favorite over Valdez ahead of their 12-round, 130-pound title fight in February 2021. Mexico’s Valdez dominated his countryman that night on his way to a vicious 10th-knockout knockout at MGM Grand Conference Center.
Alvarez, who is Valdez’s stablemate and friend, expects a much more competitive fight with Stevenson than the handicappers have projected.
“It’s gonna be a really good fight for both,” Alvarez said during a recent conference call with a small group of reporters. “It’s gonna be a difficult fight for both fighters. But Oscar have a lot of experience, have a really good training camp, so it’s gonna be a really good fight.”
Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) and Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) have been trained by Eddy Reynoso at their gym in San Diego for their challenging upcoming fights. Alvarez has moved back up to the light heavyweight division for his fight the following Saturday night, May 7, to battle unbeaten WBA 175-pound champion Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs) at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Mexico’s Alvarez has his own fight on which he has remained focused, but he has noticed some of what has been said and written about the 31-year-old Valdez’s chances against Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs), a 24-year-old southpaw from Newark, New Jersey.
“I’m surprised about that because Oscar can do many things in the ring,” Alvarez said. “He always try to, ‘Oh, I’m gonna put on a show for the people and go forward and try to [go] in and out and take punches and throw punches.’ So, I say, ‘Oscar, this fight is gonna be different. You need to keep focus and win the fight, not to put on a show for the people. Because [Stevenson is] a really good, skilled fighter, moves around. So, if you go forward, he’s gonna do his fight. You’re gonna [make it] his fight. So, you need to be aware of everything and try to win the fight.”
In addition to Valdez’s WBC belt, he and Stevenson will compete for Stevenson’s WBO junior lightweight title. DAZN will stream the show headlined by the Alvarez-Bivol bout as its inaugural pay-per-view show ($59.99 for subscribers; $79.99 for non-subscribers).
Stevenson-Valdez: A Unification Rarity at 130
BY CLIFF ROLD
Published Thu Apr 28, 2022, 01:09 AM EDT
Unification fever is everywhere in boxing right now.
Weeks removed from Errol Spence-Yordenis Ugas at welterweight, Jr. lightweight gets into the mix. 24-year old US Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (17-0, 9 KO) puts his WBO belt on the line against 31-year old 2012 Mexican Olympian and WBC titlist Oscar Valdez (30-0, 23 KO). It’s both men’s second title in as many weight classes and both enter closely removed from career best wins.
Stevenson defeated fellow US Olympian Jamel Herring for his belt in the class last October. Valdez knocked out Miguel Berchelt in impressive fashion, though left less an impression in his lone defense against Robinson Conceicao. Valdez also still carries the cloud of a failed test for a banned substance prior to the Conceicao fight; the fight proceeded despite the testing outcome.
Barring a draw, the winner will join an impressive roster of at least partially unified titlists including:
- Juan Francisco Estrada (WBA/WBC Franchise - Jr. Bantamweight)
- Naoya Inoue (IBF/WBA - Bantamweight)
- Stephen Fulton (WBC/WBO - Jr. Featherweight)
- Murodjon Akhmadaliev (IBF/WBA - Jr. Featherweight)
- George Kambosos (IBF/WBA/WBC Franchise/WBO - Lightweight)
- Josh Taylor (IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO - Jr. Welterweight)
- Errol Spence (IBF/WBA/WBC - Welterweight)
- Jermell Charlo (IBF/WBA/WBC - Jr. Middleweight)
- Gennadiy Golovkin (IBF/WBA - Middleweight)
- Saul Alvarez (IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO - Super Middleweight)
- Artur Beterbiev (IBF/WBC - Light Heavyweight)
- Oleksandr Usyk (IBF/WBA/WBO - Heavyweight)
For fans who find boxing’s proliferation of belts an obnoxious confusion, having at least partial unification of belts in eleven of boxing’s seventeen weight classes is healthy. It might not stay this good for long; Taylor’s vacancy at Jr. welterweight feels like a matter of when. There’s still more work being done at other weights. Kambosos-Devin Haney and Charlo-Brain Castano II are set and will clear up their divisional title pictures completely. Inoue-Nonito Donaire II and Beterbiev-Joe Smith Jr. will unify three belts in their respective weight classes.
Against this backdrop, Stevenson-Valdez will match the near-consensus top two at 130 lbs. TBRB and Ring will each recognize the winner as the new rightful champion at the weight. It will mark the start of a new lineage for the first time since Manny Pacquiao left for heavier achievement years ago.
Jr. lightweight might not be one of the so-called ‘original eight’ weight classes but it’s not far behind them. Jr. lightweight has one of the deepest histories of any of boxing’s in-between classes. Hall of Famers Kid Chocolate and Johnny Dundee held early versions of the crown and it has been a consistent piece of the boxing tapestry since the late 1950s.
So why have so few of its champions faced off?
Through a combination of geography, promotional affiliation, timing, and a lack of alignment of economic interests, it’s just not been a norm for the division.
Since Hiroshi Kobayashi was stripped of the WBC belt in 1969, Jr. lightweight hasn’t had a champion who unified all the belts in the class. As the title picture as grown from two to a widely accepted four major belts, we’ve rarely seen even two belts united. It’s not for a lack of talent.
Alexis Arguello, Julio Cesar Chavez, Brian Mitchell, Azumah Nelson, and Floyd Mayweather are just some of the Hall of Fame greats who posted lengthy, impressive title reigns in the class. Mitchell, as WBA titlist, sought unification. A 1991 clash with IBF titlist Tony Lopez ended in a draw. Mitchell vacated and won Lopez’s belt in the return. Mitchell retired after the fight, taking it’s longest lineal championship legacy with him as well.
Others made claim to history’s throne. Azumah Nelson’s line carried through Mayweather and Mayweather came close to adding additional belts. Mayweather faced a Diego Corrales who had vacated the IBF belt prior to challenging Mayweather for the WBC crown in 2001.
It wasn’t until Acelino Freitas (WBO) bested Joel Casamayor (WBA) in 2002 that two straps sat on one waist. It happened again not long after. Erik Morales (WBC) defeated Carlos Hernandez (IBF) in 2004 but immediately dumped the IBF belt. Marco Antonio Barrera took the WBC strap from Morales in their classic third fight and added the IBF belt with a win over Robbie Peden in 2005. The IBF belt was again vacated in the immediate aftermath.
That makes this weekend even more of a treat, and only the second of the small handful of unification clashes where both men enter undefeated.
Both in their prime.
Who knows, maybe the winner will even go for a third. Someone has to go first on that front.