Bradley’s take: What Stevenson and Valdez need to do to win
Two of the best junior lightweights in boxing will meet on Saturday to unify two world titles. Shakur Stevenson, the WBO champion, faces WBC titlist Oscar Valdez in the main event of a Top Rank card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena (10 p.m. ET on ESPN/ESPN+, with prelims at 6:25 p.m. ET on ESPN+).
Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs), 24, of Newark, New Jersey, won the belt by dominating Jamel Herring in a 10th-round TKO victory in October. Stevenson was coming off a decision victory over Jeremiah Nakathila in which he was content with winning rounds instead of keeping the pressure on. Against Herring, he was very aggressive from the start, winning all the rounds except for one, in one of the three scorecards.
Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs), 31, of Sonora, Mexico, scored an upset victory over Miguel Berchelt in 2021 to win the WBC belt, but he tested positive for phentermine, a stimulant prohibited by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association, ahead of his first title defense against Robson Conceicao. He was allowed to fight and struggled in a decision victory.
Can Stevenson keep Valdez at a distance and fight on his terms? Or will Valdez find a way to frustrate his opponent and land his powerful left hook?
Two-division champion and current ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. breaks down the junior lightweight matchup and picks the winner.
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