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Shakur Stevenson will not take centre-stage in the lightweight division for quite some time. That is perhaps unfair, ranked No 2 by the WBO and No 3 by the WBC.

Tonight, he faces Shuichiro Yoshino, Japan’s WBO Asia-Pacific champion, in an eliminator for the WBA lightweight title.

All paths will eventually lead to Vasyl Lomachenko or Devin Haney, who fight for undisputed status on 20 May. That is the theory, at least, with Stevenson gunning for a rematch with Robeisy Ramirez, the man who edged him in a split decision in a Rio Olympics gold-medal match in 2016.

Promoter Bob Arum believes Stevenson is already poised to fight either an ageing Lomachenko, or what looks like an unbeatable version of Haney. Arum leans into the excitement surrounding the young American from his early career days, which has dissipated a little since vacating his WBO featherweight belt and later being stripped of his WBO super-featherweight title.

“He walks around here with a smile – and I can’t wait to wipe that smile off his face,” Stevenson warned Yoshino.

“This dude been running around here saying that I don’t have any power. He’s been saying that he’s going to push me mentally. Let’s see if he’s ready to go to deep waters with me. I’m going to drown him.

“You’re going to see everything in the arsenal. I’m going to go out there and box him. I’m going to beat him up. He’s going to leave that ring knowing that I’m the best fighter he’s ever been in the ring with.”

Yoshino is undefeated and has never fought in the US before. Still, his shot is well-earned, having knocked out Masayoshi Nakatani in his last outing.

To put that feat into perspective, Nakatani had only ever been beaten by Lomachenko and the former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez before that. That is one of 12 KOs on Yoshino’s 16-0 record.

Since going the distance with Oscar Valdez and Robson Conceicao, he has hinted he will not be going for the knockout against Yoshino, so we can expect another measured performance from Stevenson – but until we know the outcome of Lomachenko vs Haney, or of Gervonta Davis’ catchweight bout against Ryan Garcia, it is unclear exactly what comes next.

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Stevenson vs Yoshino

  • Date: Saturday 8 April
  • Venue: Prudential Centre, Newark, USA
  • Time: Ring walks for the main event are expected around 4am UK time
  • TV/live stream: Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Action. You can stream on SkyGo or with a NOW 24-hour pass, which costs £11.99. Coverage starts from 2am (early hours of Sunday morning UK time).
  • Undercard highlights: At heavyweight Jared Anderson is looking to maintain his 100 per cent KO ratio against George Arias. Stevenson is not the only US Olympic silver medallist in action either, with Keyshawn Davis facing Anthony Yigit at lightweight
  • i predicts: Stevenson to win by unanimous decision (or by stoppage in the later rounds)

Full card:

  • Shakur Stevenson vs Shuichiro Yoshino
  • Keyshawn Davis vs Anthony Yigit
  • Jared Anderson vs George Arias
  • Troy Isley vs Roy Barringer
  • Damian Knyba vs Curtis Harper
  • Bruce Carrington vs Brandon Chambers
  • Kelvin Davis vs Nelson Morale
  • Antoine Cobb vs Jaylan Phillips

Rodriguez vs Gonzalez

Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez is out to become one of the youngest two-weight world champions in history when he faces Christian Gonzalez in San Antonio.

Rodriguez already holds the WBC super-flyweight world title, which he won last year, beating Israel Gonzalez by unanimous decision.

The vacant WBO flyweight belt is on offer tonight but perhaps even more intriguing for UK fight fans is the prospect of Bam facing Britain’s IBF world champion Sunny Edwards, who claims he has already agreed terms and is now waiting for his US counterpart to put pen to paper.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 17: Jesse Rodriguez (black and silver trunks) poses with the championship belt after defeating Israel Gonzalez to retain the WBC Super Flyweight Title at T-Mobile Arena on September 17, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
‘Bam’ Rodriguez is on the verge of another world title (Photo: Getty)
  • Date: Saturday 8 April
  • Venue: Boeing Centertech Port, San Antonio, USA
  • Time: Ring walks for the main event are expected around 4am UK time
  • TV/live stream: DAZN, where subscriptions start from £9.99
  • Undercard highlights: At super-bantamweight, Murodjon Akhmadaliev defends his WBA and IBF titles against Marlon Tapales and there’s a WBA featherweight eliminator between Jessie Magdaleno and Raymond Ford
  • i predicts: Rodriguez to win by stoppage rounds 6-8

Full card:

  • Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez vs Cristian Gonzalez
  • Murodjon Akhmadaliev vs Marlon Tapales
  • Raymond Ford vs Jessie Magdaleno
  • Thomas Mattice vs Ramiro Cesena
  • Israil Madrimov vs Raphael Igbokwe
  • Marc Castro vs Ricardo Lopez
  • Khalil Coe vs Aaron Casper
  • Jesus Martinez vs Jose Lopez

Inside Amir Khan’s doping ban

By Katherine Lucas and James Gray you can read the full story here

Amir Khan took the decision to retire from boxing after being provisionally suspended by UK Anti-Doping (Ukad) following his defeat to Kell Brook, i understands.

Brook stopped Khan in the sixth round of a grudge match in February 2022. In the wake of that bout, Khan tested positive for the banned substance ostarine, though he insists the ingestion of the bodybuilding drug was not intentional. Drugs tests after fights are conducted by independent companies.

Ukad’s scientific experts ruled that it was highly unlikely to have entered his system before 12 February. The fight took place on 19 February. However, it was accepted by an independent tribunal that he had not deliberately taken a banned substance, and so an initial ban of four years was reduced to two.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Amir Khan poses towards his supporters during the official weigh-in at Manchester Central Convention Complex ahead of his fight against Kell Brook on February 18, 2022 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Khan has insisted he is innocent after being handed a two-year ban (Photo: Getty)

i has been told Khan will not be able to appeal against the decision, with the ban covering all sports, not just boxing. One source who has worked closely with Khan described the revelations as a “complete shock”.

Promoters have also insisted they were kept in the dark, with Boxxer’s Ben Shalom telling i: “I called the board [British Boxing Board of Control] today when I saw it on social media and said, ‘Do you know about this?’ and they said, ‘I only found out yesterday’.

“We didn’t even know there was a process. We didn’t even know [Khan] failed a test. It’s completely insane. And it’s dangerous.”

Any other business

Sebastian Fundora is also in action tonight at super-welterweight against Brian Mendoza.

Former sparring partners Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith will contest Okolie’s WBO cruiserweight belt on 27 May at the Vitality Stadium. While Billam-Smith will be keen to put on a show as he finally fights at Bournemouth’s ground, Okolie has to put on a serious performance after he received boos for his display against little-known David Light.

There is no news yet on Anthony Joshua’s next fight – though in this week’s column, I suggest he would be wise to face anyone but Tyson Fury despite calling him out after his uninspiring points victory over Jermaine Franklin.

Shane McGuigan has retaliated after his fighter Ellie Scotney missed out on a world title shot and a spot on Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron’s undercard, reputedly because Cameron did not want it to feature a boxer working with her ex-trainer McGuigan. He says he “rejects Chantelle’s suggestions about her treatment” after she said she almost quit the sport because of “how horribly I was treated”.

By admin