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Shakur Stevenson-Rafael Rivera title fight in the works, says Top Rank’s Moretti

Shakur Stevenson. Photo by Mikey Williams/ TOP RANK
13
May

The hiatus on boxing will soon come to an end.

A fight between featherweight titlist Shakur Stevenson and Rafael Rivera is in the works for Tuesday June 9 in Las Vegas in the main event of a Top Rank on ESPN card.

The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger was first to report the story.

However, Top Rank Vice President Carl Moretti stressed to The Ring on Thursday that a deal is far from being finalized, but did not deny that negotiations were ongoing.

“A lot, and I mean a lot of small, medium, and large factors have to be worked out — including date, site, and opponent,” Moretti said.

The 22-year-old Stevenson (13-0, 7 knockouts) of Newark, N.J., a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, captured his first title last October with a unanimous decision over bitter rival Joet Gonzalez before a crowd of 2,828 in Reno, Nevada. But unlike that bout, there will not be any fans in attendance due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum spoke to The Ring on Monday evening and said only essential staff, family members, and media would be permitted to attend the event. Furthermore, the Hall of Fame promoter said that family members and media would be placed in a separate room adjacent to the arena.

Stevenson was due to defend his 126-pound title for the first time on March 14 against Miguel Marriaga on ESPN. But after the NBA and NHL suspended their seasons due to coronavirus, Top Rank nixed Stevenson-Marriaga two days before their event was set to take place at the Hulu Theater inside Madison Square Garden.

Instead, Stevenson will have to face Rivera (27-4-2, 18 knockouts), 26, of Mexico, who has lost four of his last six fights, though all of those defeats have come against quality opposition, including 130-pound titlist Joseph Diaz, Gonzalez, Leo Santa Cruz, and Jessie Magdaleno. The Santa Cruz affair was his first title shot, but he was widely outpointed.