By Chris Williams: Super featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez met today for their first face-off at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for their unification fight on Saturday, April 30 on ESPN.
WBO 130-lb champion Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) had a big smile on his face as he peered down at the shorter WBC champion Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) during their face-off, and you could tell that Shakur feels 100% confident of victory.
Valdez hasn’t been in there with anyone with Stevenson’s kind of skills during his career, and he’s coming into the fight under a dark cloud following his controversial win over Robson Conceicao last September.
If the 31-year-old Valdez wanted to do a solid, he would have given Conceicao a rematch so that he could give him and the boxing world the opportunity to clear up the controversy over their previous fight.
Things would have been different if Valdez were coming into the fight with Shakur off the back of his tenth round knockout win over WBC super featherweight champion Miguel Berchelt last year in February.
After that fight, Valdez was on top of the world seemingly, with boxing fans crowning him as the #1 fighter in the 130-lb division.
Stevenson is confident about his skills
“I’m going to say this and people can hate me for saying this because I’m bold. I don’t care because I take risks, I’m a risk-taker,” said Shakur Stevenson to Fighthype. “I say what’s on my mind.
“I feel like if Canelo was in my way, I would beat Canelo. I feel like my style, distance and I’m a boxer. The way that Floyd [Mayweather Jr] picked him apart, I would do the same. That’s my honest opinion.
“People can take it how they want to. Canelo could tell them whatever they want. I don’t just got Terence Crawford. I’m close to Andre Ward,” said Stevenson on the two schools – Canelo vs. Terence Crawford – that will be involved in his fight with Oscar Valdez.
“I was on the phone with Floyd two weeks ago,” said Stevenson. “My style is more so in that type of slick boxing style. It’s going to be a good fight. He’s a tough fighter,” Shakur said of Valdez. “I can’t take nothing away from him, but I feel like I’m the better fighter.
“Most definitely, that’s why it’s the biggest fight in boxing,” said Stevenson when told that his match against Valdez will be one involving the American style vs. the Mexican style.
“We’re the best fighters in boxing, we’re both undefeated and we both got a lot to lose and put a big risk on the line. I feel like it’s going to be a great fight, but I’m the better fighter and I’m going to outclass him, I’m going to be better than him and beat him up. I’m going to do what I’ve said I was going to do.
“I feel like you should put me on the pound-for-pound list, and I feel like I’m one of the best fighters in boxing after I dismantle him. I’m telling you that on April 30th, I’m going to put on a show.
“I don’t think like that,” said Stevenson when asked if he’ll be able to work himself through a moment if he’s hurt by Valdez on April 30th. “I don’t know what y’all think. I don’t think like that, but it’s boxing, anything is possible.
“I know that if that moment did come, I’ve got a lot of heart in me, a lot of dog in me, and I’m fully prepared for whatever it takes to win. I got some Puerto Rican in me. My father is Puerto Rican. I’m not one of those dudes that are going to be faking.
“I didn’t meet my father until I was 18, but I did meet him and it was a lot of love from both sides,” said Shakur.
Stevenson is going to need to box Valdez, and avoid punching with him like he did his last opponent Jamel Herring. Valdez has too much power and experience for Shakur to take the risk of going toe-to-toe for 12 rounds.
Valdez chose Shakur over Navarrete
Oscar Valdez says he turned down a fight against fellow Top Rank fighter Emanuel Navarrete in favor of facing Stevenson because that’s the fight that the fans were asking for. That would have been a tough fight too for Valdez.
“It’s a new challenge going for a new belt, and that’s something I’ve always wanted,” said Oscar Valdez to Tru School Sports.
“What better way to do it than against a great fighter like Shakur, a fighter that has been calling me out for quite some time already, more than a couple of years already.
“I can’t wait to get in that ring and try and accomplish my dreams,” said Valdez. “We denied the Emanuel Navarrete fight because we didn’t want to fight.
“The promoter was trying to make a fight between me and Navarrete and then a fight with Shakur. I wasn’t really a fan of it because I wanted to jump in the Shakur fight because that was a fight that fans wanted.
“We owe ourselves to the fans, and if the fans want us to fight, we have to do it. I always rise when the competition gets bigger. So with Shakur, it depends on what he brings to the table.
“We all know his style. He has the amateur pedigree, but I’m also a two-time Olympian. I’ve been in there with all kinds of styles, all sorts of styles, southpaws, orthodox, tall, short fighters. It’s nothing new to me.
“As I said before, once when the competition rises, I rise with the competition and I’m going to do my best to win this fight. Yes, without a doubt,” said Valdez when asked if this is a fight that he needs to show that he’s improving
“With every fight, I’m showing that I’m improving, especially being with Eddy Reynoso. I’ve always learned something different. Over the years, I feel like I’m improving my skills,” said Valdez.
Oscar’s trainer Eddy Reynoso might not have the knowledge to overcome the advantages that Stevenson has in this fight.
If all Reynoso can come up with for Valdez is to have him walk forward with a high guard, trying to get close enough to land his power shots the way Canelo does, it’s probably not going to work.