Three title fights featuring unbeaten champions should serve as the proper headliner for the sport’s next pay-per-view event Saturday night.
And although titleholders Oscar Valdez, Gilberto Ramirez and Jessie Magdaleno merit recognition for their accomplishments, the boxing public also is intrigued by the appearance of another fighter still years from similar achievements but targeted for professional stardom.
Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson will make his professional debut on the card at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. Stevenson, who became one of the most successful U.S. boxers in the 2016 Summer Olympics, will face Edgar Brito in a scheduled four-round featherweight bout.
“I’m so excited. I can’t wait for my pro debut,” Stevenson said in a recent news conference. “I plan on entertaining the fans.”
Stevenson, 19, became the closest U.S. male boxer to win an Olympic gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004. Stevenson reached the final of the bantamweight division and lost to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez.
Stevenson’s performances drew comparisons to 1996 Olympian and eventual five-division professional world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. In fact, during the Olympics Mayweather actively recruited Stevenson to join his promotional company before Stevenson signed a professional promotional deal with Top Rank, headed by Bob Arum.
Arum is experienced at signing high-profile U.S. Olympic boxers. Before they became their own promoters, Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya began their professional careers under Arum’s promotional guidance.
AROUND THE RING
▪ David Lemieux’s quick work in his last fight enabled him to land another bout sooner than expected and in the sport’s next marquee event.
The middleweight contender will fight Marcos Reyes on May 6 in Las Vegas.
The bout will be part of the undercard headlined by the middleweight match between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
For Lemieux, the bout follows his third-round knockout victory over Curtis Stevens on March 11. Given the fight’s short duration, Lemieux (37-3, 33 KOs) jumped at the opportunity of participating in the high-profile setting of an Alvarez-headlined card.
“I think I was able to send a clear message on March 11 with my performance against Curtis Stevens, and I intend to do the same on May 6,” Lemieux said in a statement. “I want to make sure that everyone understands that David Lemieux is making his way towards the top and that he intends to stay there.”
Lemieux’s previous attempt at reaching the top ended unsuccessfully. The native of Canada suffered an eighth-round, technical-knockout loss against Gennady Golovkin in a failed title bid in October 2015.
Although a rematch with Golovkin seems unlikely in the near future, Lemieux could end up facing Alvarez if both win on May 6. An Alvarez-Lemieux match might not seem unreasonable, especially if negotiations continue to drag in the much-discussed match between Alvarez and Golovkin.
▪ Late Saturday, Miami resident Sullivan Barrera scored a fifth-round, technical-knockout victory over Paul Parker in their light-heavyweight bout in Uncasville, Connecticut. Barrera is now 19-1 with 14 knockouts.
Miami resident and heavyweight contender Luis Ortiz withdrew from his scheduled bout against Derric Rossy on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York, because of a fractured finger in his left hand.
Thursday (10 p.m., ESPN2): Michael Perez vs. Marcelino Lopez, 10, lightweights.
Friday (11 p.m., UniMas-Ch. 69): Christopher Diaz vs. Sergio Lopez, 10, featherweights.
Saturday (9 p.m., pay-per-view): Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Marriaga, 12, for Valdez’s WBO featherweight title; Jesse Magdaleno vs. Adeilson Dos Santos, 12, for Magdaleno’s WBO junior-featherweight title; Gilberto Ramirez vs. Max Bursak, 12, for Ramirez’s WBO super-middleweight title.
Saturday (9 p.m., Showtime): Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto, 12, welterweights; Jermell Charlo vs. Charles Hatley, 12, for Charlo’s WBC super-welterweight title.