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Shakur Stevenson To Fight On July 6th, Set To Leave Top Rank After

Shakur Stevenson To Fight On July 6th, Set To Leave Top Rank After featured image
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - NOVEMBER 16: Shakur Stevenson enters the ring for his lightweight title fight against Edwin De Los Santos on November 16, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Stevenson won the vacant WBC lightweight title by unanimous decision. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Like many other well-known fighters before him, Shakur Stevenson is set to become the latest to leave the Top Rank promotion and look for greener pastures through another promotional outfit, or free agency. Before a decision is made on that front, Stevenson prepares for the first defense of his WBC lightweight title against Artem Harutyunyan which has been officially scheduled for July 6th at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Shakur Stevenson (21-0, 10 KO’s) will seek to retain his title against Armenian lightweight contender Artem Harutyunyan (12-1, 7 KO’s) whose previous match last year saw him edged out by American 135 lbs contender Frank Martin (18-0, 12 KO’s) who won their match by unanimous decision (UD).

Despite Harutyunyan having performed well during his last match despite the loss he suffered, he is currently ranked #6 according to the WBC’s lightweight rankings; and therefore outranked by other worthy opponents; particularly #1-rated Mexican contender William Zepeda (30-0, 26 KO’s). For the thousandth time, the WBC appears on the forefront of controversy with them having neglected to order Stevenson to face a mandatory challenger for reasons still unknown.

This presents a number of issues, with Stevenson apparently not beholden to facing a mandatory challenger despite having yet to defend his title after winning the then-vacant belt in a publicly-admonished bout against Edwin De Los Santos (16-2, 14 KO’s) last November. While Stevenson might in this case be exempt from facing a mandatory challenger, other champions are still subject to mandates to fight other top-rated contenders; signifying the WBC is either being inconsistent again, or prone to favoring Stevenson.

Either way, Harutyunyan poses the same sort of threat to Shakur Stevenson as he did Frank Martin, which will force the WBC champion to be at his best come July 6th. In addition to the Stevenson-Harutyunyan bout, Top Rank has further announced the #3 WBC-ranked lightweight contender Keyshawn Davis (10-0, 7 KO’s) to be a part of the same card, marking it the fourth time he and Stevenson―who are considered close friends―are fighting in the same event. Davis will be fighting Mexican contender Miguel Madueno (31-2, 28 KO’s) who is currently ranked #37 with the WBC.

O’Shaquie Foster (22-2, 12 KO’s), who despite his apparent free agent status will be fighting for Top Rank for the second time in a row, will also be participating on the card and defend his WBC 130 lbs title against Brazilian contender Robson Conceicao (18-2-1, 9 KO’s).

More significant is the news of Shakur Stevenson’s impending free agent status that he had spoken of last year during an interview with Cigar Talk. An interview held by Fight Hub TV with Top Rank founder Bob Arum last month revealed Stevenson’s contract would expire following July 6th―which has now been confirmed to be after his bout against Artem Harutyunyan.

While it still appears Stevenson is undecided on what to do next, with there being a decent chance he will venture from promotion to promotion on fight-by-fight contracts similar to rival Devin Haney (31-1, 15 KO’s), his July 6th match will first be his main focus with Harutyunyan still considered a viable contender; and therefore a candidate to take away Stevenson’s WBC title and end his reign as world champion.