Shakur Stevenson’s return to his hometown was officially announced Saturday.
As previously reported by BoxingScene.com and other outlets, Stevenson’s fight against Japan’s Shuichiro Yoshino will take place April 8 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Their 12-round main event, which ESPN will televise, was revealed Saturday as part of the Invesco QQQ Legacy Classic, a college basketball showcase hosted by actor Michael B. Jordan, star of the “Creed” franchise.
Stevenson (19-0, 9 KOs), who will headline at his hometown arena for the third time, and Tokyo’s Yoshino (16-0, 12 KOs) will square off in a WBC lightweight elimination match. Whoever wins will become the mandatory challenger for the victor between fully unified 135-pound champion Devin Haney (29-0, 15 KOs) and former three-division champ Vasiliy Lomachenko (17-2, 11 KOs).
Stevenson, 25, is ranked third among the WBC’s lightweight contenders, two spots atop the fifth-ranked Yoshino.
This will mark the second straight fight in Newark for Stevenson. The skillful southpaw beat Brazil’s Robson Conceicao (17-2, 8 KOs) convincingly during their 12-round, 130-pound championship match September 23 at Prudential Center.
The WBC and WBO titles were only at stake for Conceicao because Stevenson came in overweight the previous day.
Yoshino, 31, has produced impressive back-to-back victories over fellow Japanese boxers to move up the WBC’s lightweight rankings.
In Yoshino’s most recent action, he knocked out Masayoshi Nakatani in the sixth round November 1 at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. The only prior losses for Nakatani (20-3, 14 KOs) came against former lightweight champions Teofimo Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs), who beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round bout, and Lomachenko, who won by ninth-round technical knockout.
In his bout before he stopped Nakatani, Yoshino defeated former WBO junior lightweight champ Masayuki Ito (27-4-1, 15 KOs) by technical decision. Yoshino led Ito on all three scorecards (107-102, 107-102, 106-103) at the time their 12-round fight was halted in the 11th round due to Ito’s cut, which was caused by an accidental clash of heads and prevented Ito from continuing last April 9 at Saitama Super Arena.
ESPN’s tripleheader April 8 also will include a 10-round lightweight bout between top prospect Keyshawn Davis (7-0, 5 KOs), of Norfolk, Virginia, and Ghanian veteran Emmanuel Tagoe (32-2, 15 KOs). The Davis-Tagoe bout wasn’t officially announced Saturday.
Heavyweight knockout artist Jared Anderson will be showcased in ESPN’s co-feature April 8. An opponent for Anderson (13-0, 13 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, has not yet been secured.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.