By Jack Tiernan: Canelo Alvarez has been giving WBC super featherweight champion Oscar Valdez valuable advice on defeating WBO 130-lb champion Shakur Stevenson in their fight on April 30th on ESPN+ at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) isn’t revealing what Canelo has told him in how to beat Shakur, but it likely has to do with putting steady pressure on him, backing him up, and going to the body.
Stevenson’s fighting style is similar to the vintage Floyd Mayweather Jr., but he’s more elusive and less willing to stay in the pocket than he did during his career.
Canelo struggled in the first three-quarters of his fight with Mayweather in 2013 when he foolishly attempted to box with him, which was never going to work.
Only after Canelo began to pressure Mayweather relentlessly beginning in round nine, he enjoyed success and put him on the run.
Valdez will need to apply constant pressure on Shakur from start to finish on April 30th, not allowing him to breathe and focusing on throwing body shots to weaken his legs.
A big part of Shakur’s game is his pull-back style, in which he throws a shot and then jumps back to avoid returning fire from his opponents.
If Valdez stays on Stevenson, emphasizing body shots, he’ll remove Shakur’s legs, forcing him to stand and fight toe-to-toe for the last three-fours of the contest.
Canelo giving Valdez advice to beat Shakur
“It’s a high-class fight for sure, and that’s why we want it. He’s been mentioning and calling out my name for quite some time already,” said Oscar Valdez to Fight Hub TV about Shakur Stevenson.
“Different stuff. Obviously, he’s been in the ring with all types of fighters,” said Valdez when asked what advice Canelo Alvarez gave him about the Stevenson fight. “He’s fought fighters that fought backwards and bang.”
“So, he obviously has experience. He gives us one or two tips simple tips. Nothing too crazy. It’s nothing that a trainer wouldn’t tell you. Eddy Reynoso is the man that made Canelo Alvarez.
Canelo tries to help. He’s a positive guy who brings a lot of positive energy and good energy to the gym. We all want what he has. He has all the belts; he’s going up in divisions and doing crazy things in boxing. We’re trying to do something similar.
“It’s beautiful when they have all those belts. When Canelo has all those belts, and Tyson Fury has all those belts, and Josh Taylor has all those belts. It’s a beautiful sensation to see all those belts together. That’s something we want.
“This is the first step. Shakur Stevenson is holding the WBO, and from there on, the sky’s the limit. We want all the belts. It sounds like a long journey, but it’s not impossible,” said Valdez.
Valdez has his eye on being the undisputed champion
Oscar is impressed with fighters like Canelo Alvarez, Josh Taylor, and Terence Crawford becoming undisputed champions recently and in the past.
Valdez likes the idea of being seen with four titles around his shoulders after becoming an undisputed champion in the 130-lb weight class.
Given the lack of high-caliber fighters at super featherweight, Valdez will need to become the undisputed champion to make the kind of that he would if he fought noise in a weight class with famous fighters like at lightweight.
“The fans were starting to believe the fact that he was saying that I was scared of him,” said Valdez. “He was saying that I was a duck and avoiding him, which was never the case.
“I was never afraid of anyone out there, and I think it’s a perfect time. He’s got the belt; I got a belt. Who doesn’t want to be able to be an unified champion?
“You got Tyson Fury, Terence Crawford, and Canelo Alvarez. They’ve got this beautiful image when they have all the belts. That’s something we want as well, and Shakur wants it as well.
“It’s now here on April 30th, and I’m excited about this new chapter in my life to get another belt. To continue growing and to continue to my ultimate dream of being one of the greatest Mexican fighters out there.
“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t. ‘Come on, guys. you believe it?’” said Valdez when asked if it bothered him that boxing fans felt that he was ducking Shakur.
“I started to hear if when I would walk around. Fans would say, ‘Hey, when is the Shakur fight happening?’ What really surprised me was when I was back home, and people would ask me.
“Before, nobody really knew Shakur. He was a prospect, but now he has a belt. Now his name is out there, and now it’s an interesting fight. Shakur has been mentioning my name on social media,” Valdez said.
Oscar wants to entertain the fans
Valdez says he wants to entertain the boxing fans by making a brawl like the fighters from the past. For Valdez to make it interesting against the 24-year-old Shakur, he’ll need to draw him out and make him want to fight instead of using his everyday amateur fencing style of fighting.
Stevenson has the capability of trading toe-to-toe, as we saw in his fights against Jamel Herring and Felix Caraballo, but the question is, will he want to fight like that against Valdez?
“I just want to fight the best. This is the perfect fight right now, and this is the fight that should be made,” Valdez said. “There are two champions and one crown, so one of us is going to leave with the crown.
“He’s a skillful fighter,” said Valdez about Stevenson. “I seriously doubt that it’s going to be one of those fights that we’re used to seeing. The fans pay for a ticket to see a good fight.
“I can box and go out there and jab my way off, move around and probably win the fight. It would be boring, but I can win the fight that way. But I prefer to go in there and give the fans what they want, which is a good fight.
“But in this case with Shakur Stevenson, it’s going to be different. He said it himself. He’s not going to go in there and try to bang with meand that’s okay because everyone is trying to do what they can to win the fight.
“I’m sure it’s not going to be a brawl, but more of a chess game where the smarter fighter is going to win the fight. A lot of people think that I’m just a come forward fighter, but I can also box.
“I’ve got my boxing IQ. The smarter fighter is going to win that night. The first guy that makes a mistake is going to pay for it. We got to be well prepared. Expect a very technical and tactical fight.
“It’s not going to be a war, but I have to do what I have to do to come out victorious,” said Valdez.
Stevenson won’t want to go to war
Valdez says he expects Shakur to box him and make it a cautious chests match on April 30th, as he’s not going to want to taste his power.
Although Shakur brawled with his last opponent WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring and wound up stopping him in the 10th round in October 2021, he won’t want to do the same against the bigger punching Valdez.
He hits a lot harder than Herring, and his hand speed is far better. If Shakur gets hit with one of Valdez’s crushing left hooks like the one he knocked out former WBC 130-lb champion Miguel Berchelt with in 2021, he’ll stop him.
What we’ll probably see is Stevenson hitting & moving back the entire fight against Valdez in the same way he did in his fight with the heavy-handed Jeremiah Nakathila in June of 2021, when the two battled for the vacant WBO interim super featherweight title .
Shakur fought so cautiously that he angered the boxing fans at ringside at the Virgin Hotels of Las Vegas, and they wound up booing him.
“I don’t think so,” said Valdez when asked if the bigger Stevenson might choose to come forward to use his size. “I saw against Jamel Herring that sometimes he stays in there and bangs.
“He might get in the heat of the moment where you get aggressive and try to risk. It could happen, but I’m not expecting it. I’m expecting the best Stevenson. The way he fought technical Jamel Herring was a very fight.
“I’m expecting the best because that’s going to bring the best out of me. Everyone should tune into this fight because it’s going to be a very exciting fight. I’m going to bring m best to make it an interesting fight.
“It might be a technical chess game fight, but you never know. Boxing has a lot of magical nights. Without a doubt, he’s the toughest opponent of my career to this day.
“Every fight is more important than the last one. Yes, it’s more important. I hope so because I truly feel that we owe this to the fans,” said Valdez when asked if Shakur will be willing to take punishment and stay until the bitter end like he did when he fought with a broken jaw against Scott Quigg in 2018.
“I don’t know if Shakur has a heart or not. That’s not up to me. I just concentrate on what I’m doing in training in the gym, training hard, and keep on improving as a fighter,” said Valdez.