Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez to vie for vacant WBO featherweight title
Oscar Valdez has relinquished his WBO featherweight title, the sanctioning body announced.
With the title now vacant, the WBO has tasked the representatives of Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez, ranked Nos. 1 and 2 respectively, with negotiating a deal to square off for the vacant title. Should a deal not be reached by September 5, a purse bid will be called with a minimum bid of $150,000.
Stevenson is promoted by Top Rank, while Gonzalez is promoted Golden Boy Promotions.
The move by Valdez comes as no surprise as he has been contemplating a move up to 130 pounds over the last several months. He successfully defended the WBO title for the sixth and final time on June 8, defeating Jason Sanchez by unanimous decision. The WBO ordered Valdez to defend the title against Stevenson before Valdez relinquished the belt.
Stevenson versus Gonzalez will be a compelling clash between two unbeaten contenders who have notched impressive wins in recent fights. It will be the first time both Stevenson and Gonzalez will be fighting for a major title.
Stevenson (12-0, 7 knockouts) most recently fought on July 13, knocking out late-sub Alberto Guevara in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey. The 22-year-old Stevenson’s best win as a pro came in his previous fight on April 20, defeating former junior lightweight title challenger Christopher Diaz by unanimous decision.
Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs), who resides in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendora, also fought on July 13, knocking out Manuel “Tino” Avila in round six, in Carson, California. Gonzalez has displayed more aggression and power in recent fights, having stopped eight of his last nine opponents.
Whomever wins the purse bid will likely promote the fight near their fighter’s hometown. Stevenson has fought across the country, while the 25-year-old Gonzalez has fought in Southern California with a handful of fights in Las Vegas.
According to Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy Promotions, Gonzalez will fight anywhere, including Stevenson’s hometown. Gomez is confident Gonzalez will emerge victorious.
“I’m looking forward to this fight,” Gomez told The Ring on Wednesday afternoon. “Joet is ready to shock the world.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and FightNights.com. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing.
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