Shakur Stevenson enjoyed a homecoming for his last fight before officially entering the title picture.
His next trip home will come as his stock has never been higher.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Stevenson will next face Brazil’s Robson Conceicao in defense of his lineal/WBC/WBO junior lightweight championship. The bout will headline a September 23 ESPN show from the Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey. The show takes place on a Friday, due to already scheduled all-day college football programming.
Yahoo! Sports was the first to break the news of a deal being reached for the fight, following a report from ESPN.com boxing insider Mike Coppinger that Stevenson-Conceicao was in advanced talks.
Stevenson (18-0, 9KOs) has only fought once before in his hometown, a third-round knockout of Alberto Guevara in July 2019. The event came with its share of difficulties, as Guevara was the third opponent in line to take the fight after replacing Franklin Manzanilla who withdrew after accepting the fight on short notice himself in place of Hairon Socarras.
Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile investment into the career of Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic Silver medalist for the U.S. who went from the Newark showcase to his first world title fight four months later. Stevenson dominated Joet Gonzalez in an October 2019 WBO featherweight title fight in Reno, Nevada, though never having the chance to defend due to the pandemic and ultimately outgrowing the division.
Stevenson has since claimed two-division title status, delivering back-to-back tour-de-force performances in unifying the WBO and WBC junior lightweight titles. He effortlessly turned away reigning WBO junior lightweight titlist Jamel Herring in a one-sided, tenth-round stoppage last October in Atlanta.
The feat was followed by his signature performance to date, dominating unbeaten WBC junior lightweight titlist Oscar Valdez over twelve rounds this past April 30 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Conceicao (17-1, 8KOs) aims for a title on his second try. The three-time Olympian made history for Brazil in becoming the nation’s first boxer to win a Gold medal, doing so at home during the 2016 Rio Olympics.
His pro career stumbled out to an uneven though unblemished start, ironically proving his worth in his lone loss to date. The 33-year-old from Salvador, Brazil dropped a disputed, twelve-round decision to Valdez in their WBC title fight last September 10 in Tucson, Arizona. The fight was mired in controversy, as Valdez tested positive for a banned substance but was ultimately cleared by the WBC and the presiding commission to proceed with the fight.
Conceicao has since rebounded with a convincing ten-round, unanimous decision win over previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez this past January 29 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The ESPN televised bout was a sanctioned title eliminator, advancing Conceicao to the number-two spot. He was able to jump the line after number-one ranked O’Shaquie Foster was ordered to face Eduardo Ramirez in yet another eliminator, though Ramirez was since named as an opponent for Isaac Cruz in a September 4 lightweight bout.
The September 23 event marks the first world title fight to take place at the Prudential Center since October 2017. That occasion saw then-unbeaten IBF cruiserweight titlist Murat Gassiev score a second-round knockout of former two-time titlist Krzysztof Wlodarczyk in the opening round of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox