Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Stevenson Looks To Make Successful First Defense Of Lightweight Crown


With the departure of former Undisputed Lightweight world champion Devin Haney, the period of transition in the 135lb. Lightweight division continues with several world champions in the division looking to make their claim as being the best Lightweight in the world. In recent times both Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis have made their respective arguments. Lomachenko emerged as a unified world champion in the division on May 12th with an eleventh round stoppage of IBO world champion George Kambosos in Kambosos’ home country of Australia. Along with the IBO world championship, Lomachenko also gained the vacant IBF crown, emerging as a unified world champion, and in many ways, by default, because he became a unified world champion, became the fighter that all top contenders, other world champions, and would be prospects look to target for a potential fight. The vacant WBO world championship would be decided on May 18th when undefeated top contender Denys Berinchyk scored what many felt was an upset in scoring a twelve round split decision over the heavily favored former three-division world champion Emanuel Navarrete in San Diego, CA.

This was followed by Gervonta Davis, who was recently elevated to world champion in the WBA Lightweight ratings, making a successful first defense of his piece of the World Lightweight championship with a brutal eighth round knockout of previously unbeaten top contender Frank Martin in Las Vegas, NV on June 15th. A fight and Davis appeared to be losing, only for the champion to graciously walk his opponent down and end matters with a brutal right uppercut, left him combination. As much of a statement as that knockout was by Davis, there is one more world champion in the Lightweight division that is awaiting his chance to make his claim as being the best Lightweight in the world. 

Yours truly is referring to undefeated three-division world champion Shakur Stevenson, who is the current holder of the WBC World Lightweight championship. Stevenson won the then vacant WBC crown with a twelve round unanimous decision over Edwin De Los Santos in November of last year. While Stevenson did what he had to do in that fight to win a world championship in his third weight class, it was not a crowd-pleasing performance by Stevenson who tends to be underappreciated by some for his overall skillset and his ability to box rather than engaging in a more toe to toe battle with his opponents.

Following the success of Lomachenko, Berinchyk, and Davis, Stevenson will now look to make the first defense of his WBC crown on July 6th as he will face current WBC number seven Lightweight contender Artem Harutyunyan at the Prudential Center in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, NJ. A world championship bout that can be seen on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+.

While this fight has all the appearance of a homecoming for the champion in a venue that he has fought three times previously in his career, what does the challenger bring with him into this fight? Artem Harutyunyan has had thirteen professional fights and has only one defeat. Some might argue that the setback for the Armenian-born, German-based Harutyunyan came in his only opportunity to date to step up in the caliber of opposition in terms of world level. The defeat came in losing a twelve round unanimous decision to Frank Martin in July of last year, which was coincidentally Harutyunyan’s last fight. 

The effort he showed in that fight however, in what was a close and competitive contest, along with his having won titles on the regional level of the sport including titles affiliated with the World Boxing Council (WBC), earned him the number seven ranking in their Lightweight ratings. While Harutyunyan does have a limited resume in terms of facing world-rated opposition, he has scored knockouts in seven of his twelve victories, albeit against largely unknown opposition.

Nevertheless, the challenger faces a significant uphill battle against Stevenson. The onus is on Harutyunyan to show what he can do and show that this is a more serious fight than some are anticipating. 

The old adage of styles make fights almost always applies to just about any fight, but the adage that this observer is often quoted as saying should also apply. “Boxing Is A Sport Of Opportunity." While just about every attribute one could measure seems to be in favor of the champion Stevenson, from overall experience on the world championship level to style in being elusive, to hand speed, sometimes all a fighter wants is an opportunity. There is always the possibility for a challenger, a significant underdog, to pull off a surprise, despite what logic and statistics might suggest. Whether Artem Harutyunyan can do that remains to be seen as does whether Stevenson can make a convincing argument for himself as the number one fighter amidst the latest refresh of the Lightweight division. 

“And That's The Boxing Truth." 

Stevenson vs. Harutyunyan takes place on Saturday, July 6th at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The fight and its full undercard can be seen in the United States on digital subscription sports streaming network ESPN+ beginning at 6PM ET/3PM PT. For more information about ESPN+ including schedules, list of compatible streaming devices, platforms, Smart TVs, and to subscribe please visit:

(*Card and Start Time Subject To Change*)

(*Check your local listings Internationally*)

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