Shakur Stevenson will kick off Top Rank’s extremely busy return to ESPN airwaves next Tuesday, June 9, with a main event fight against Felix Caraballo, with the two meeting behind closed doors at the MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas.
Stevenson (13-0, 7 KO) was one of the first fighters whose career was impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown, as his scheduled Mar. 14 WBO featherweight title defense against Miguel Marriaga was canceled just two days out from fight night.
The 22-year-old Olympic silver medalist will now be “testing the waters” at junior lightweight. He’s already said he thinks he’ll be moving up, but one figures he’ll see how he really feels fighting at the weight.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring and return live boxing to ESPN,” Stevenson said. “I was really disappointed when my fight got cancelled in March, and I said then that I wanted to be one of the first fights back. I stayed in shape so when that call came, I was ready.”
Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KO) really isn’t expected to be any sort of actual threat to Stevenson. The Puerto Rican is, on paper, simply someone available at the weight who would agree to the fight. The original idea was for Stevenson to fight Rafael Rivera, but he had a visa issue.
Boxing behind closed doors has gotten a mixed reaction from fighters overall; most seem fine with the idea, but others are concerned about not having a crowd’s energy, and most likely, the fact that they’re going to have to take lesser purses for the time being.
Stevenson is simply focused on putting in a good performance, though.
“The atmosphere might be different on June 9, but I’ve fought in unique situations all over the world before so it won’t affect me. Regardless of who’s in the building, you’ll see another great performance, and I’ll remind everyone why I’m the best young fighter in boxing.”
The co-feature will see Mikaela Mayer (12-0, 5 KO) take on Helen Joseph (17-4-2, 10 KO) in another 10-round junior lightweight bout. Two-time gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez and heavyweight prospects Jared Anderson and Guido Vianello will also be in action on the card.