Two crowns at stake but there can only be one King.
The time for unification within one of boxing’s best divisions is finally here. The battle between two kings for the bragging rights and significant stake of territory in the 130 lb. division, will commence later this evening between the WBC super featherweight champion Oscar Valdez and WBO super featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson.
Tale of the Tape
|Boxer||Oscar Valdez||Shakur Stevenson|
|Current Titles (Super Middleweight)||WBC||WBO|
|Country of Origin/Nationality||Mexico||United States|
This is a feature attraction, complimented by the two premier fighters of the division. There are other legitimate contenders in the super featherweight division (Chris Colbert, Hector Luis Garcia, Xavier Martinez, Robson Conceição) along with two other world champions – Kenichi Ogawa (26–1–1–1, 18 KO’s) and Roger Gutiérrez (26–3–1, 20 KO’s), but Valdez and Stevenson stand out as the foremost recognized fighters of this stacked weight class.
“It’s the perfect time to have this fight now. Shakur Stevenson is a two-time world champion right now. I’m a two-time world champion as well. It’s the perfect time,” said Valdez.
“Let’s prove who is the best 130-pounder. Let’s get it on April 30. Let’s just show it. I think it’s the correct time to do it.”
Keys to Victory for Oscar Valdez:
- Stevenson is a master of the ring and wants to control the tempo. It is paramount for Valdez to apply physical and mental pressure and make Stevenson uncomfortable.
- Valdez must disrupt the tempo and get Stevenson off his rhythm.
- Stevenson is versatile enough to fight at any distance but with his speed advantages, will be best served fighting at distance, so Valdez must close the distance effectively and efficiently.
- Cut the ring off and control the ring real estate.
- Valdez must invest early and often. Focus on attacking the body and limbs of Stevenson, not necessarily the head. Beating the body may slow up the target and enable eventual openings up top.
- Practice patient hostility. Provide the constant threat of attack and rely on his advantage of experience.
As aforementioned, the winner stamps a stronghold within the division, inches closer to unification and undisputed and possibly lands in the top pound-for-pound list, if they’re not firmly planted across the mythical lists already.
“I never said I’m on the pound-for-pound list yet. I said that after this fight, once I get past Oscar Valdez, I’ll be on the pound-for-pound list,” said Stevenson.
“I’ve been waiting on this moment my whole life. It’s taken years and years of training, since I was an amateur, to prepare for this moment. I feel like I’m ready.”
Keys to Victory for Shakur Stevenson:
- Be attentive and active. Valdez is expecting to lead, throw him off and initiate the action intelligently.
- The jab is key and Stevenson’s best weapon. The jab will have to be strong, stiff, and quick. At times, jab will have to come in bunches to negate Valdez’s ability to counter-punch and will make Valdez reset.
- Maintain the proper distance to maximize skillset. Be the master of range, to effectively fight from the outside and utilizing superior height, arm reach and speed.
- Continuing with the theme of mastering ring real estate, stay off the ropes and do not become a stationary target.
- In addition to the aforementioned keys to success, Stevenson must punch Valdez hard enough to earn respect. He must operate to which he always presents a threat and causes Valdez to think twice before coming in.
- Calmness is key. This is the biggest professional fight for each fighter. It will serve Stevenson well if he remains calm under the physical pressure from Valdez and potential emotional pressure from the crowd. Calmness will allow Stevenson to think and adapt.
Both Valdez and Stevenson were highly touted and successful amateurs, both making appearances in the Olympic games, with Stevenson taking home a silver medal.
As professionals, but are undefeated, two-division world champions, both at featherweight and super featherweight, and coincidentally, train with two top fighters considered the pound-for-pound best in the business. Valdez under the tutelage of trainer Eddy Reynoso and his star pupil Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, while Stevenson is a frequent partner under the tutelage of Terence “Bud” Crawford.
“Just like in this fight, I was very focused on the fight that I had in front of me. I had known about Shakur Stevenson. I saw him in the Olympics. He was a great fighter then, and he’s turned into a great champion now,” said Valdez of witnessing Stevenson’s potential back in day.
“It was great to train beside Canelo Alvarez. There are always things you can learn from fighters who have great experience. But it doesn’t matter at the end of the day because the ones who are going to be inside the ring are me and Shakur. It doesn’t matter if Canelo trains me or teaches me different things. At the end of the day, it’s about who has the biggest heart in the ring on April 30,” Valdez on his relationship training with Alvarez.
For Stevenson, this is the fight and opponent he had been calling upon for more than three years and fortunately for him and boxing fans, that moment has arrived.
“I speak the truth every time I talk. I felt like he didn’t want to fight me at 126. Now we’re here at 130. He was trying to fight [Emanuel] Navarrete before fighting me. But we’re here now. We can’t keep talking about that. The fight is Saturday, and I’m ready to fight,” said Stevenson of making the fight with Valdez.
Stevenson continued, “When Bud [Crawford] was in my camp, he came and we sparred each other. I feel like it was different from his camp because he had Canelo with him during every step of the way.”
“Canelo was right there next to him telling him out to hook and jab. They were with each other step of the way. So, when I beat him, I’m going to feel good beating him, Canelo, Eddy Reynoso, the whole team.”
“I think he’s going to bang. That’s it. I think he’s trying to trick me into thinking he’s going to box me and be technical. I’m not falling for that. I’m ready for the Oscar Valdez who goes in there throwing hooks and putting pressure.”
Time for talk is over, who will emerge as the leading man of the super featherweight division?
“There’s only one life, one love, so there can only be one King,” as quoted from Hip-Hop legend Nas.