Shakur Stevenson reportedly has an opponent for his lightweight debut.
Stevenson and Japan’s Suichiro Yoshino are finalizing a deal for an April 8 fight, ESPN’s Mike Coppinger reported. The winner of the bout will be the mandatory challenger for the WBC lightweight title, which is held by undisputed champion Devin Haney.
No site has been finalized, Coppinger added.
Stevenson has been looking for an opponent ever since he moved up in weight following his last contest at junior lightweight in September. The 25-year-old defeated Robson Conceicao by unanimous decision, but was stripped of his WBC and WBO titles after missing weight.
At the time, Stevenson announced on social media that it was OK because he was planning to move up anyways. He told FIGHT SPORTS in the post-fight press conference what fighting at junior lightweight was doing to his body.
Now, Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs) seeks a third weight title.
He was originally ordered by the WBC to a title eliminator against Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz, but that fell through. Then William Zepeda was next in line, promoter Oscar De La Hoya said that they were turning it down because he needs “more exposure for Zepeda to create a super fight with Shakur.”
George Kambosos Jr, the former unified lightweight champion, was the third option, but he declined.
“I’m on well-deserved holidays with my kids, anticipating my return mid next year,” Kambosos tweeted last month. ” … Full respect Shakur, I feel an end-of-year war coming in 2023.”
“Third person turned me down and I haven’t fought one fight at 135,” Stevenson tweeted in December.
Now, Stevenson has come across Yoshino, a 31-year-old boxer who has never fought outside of Japan.
Yoshino (16-0, 12 KOs) has two impressive wins under his belt including an 11th-round technical knockout against former 130-pound champion Masayuki Ito in April and a sixth-round knockout of Masayoshi Nakatani in November.
A victory for Stevenson could quickly put him in front of Haney. Haney is in negotiations to face former lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.