Robson Conceicao, an Olympic champion in 2016 and with a 17-1 record, is the latest opponent tasked with playing spoiler for Shakur Stevenson’s ambitious plans this weekend. Embarrassed by a weight miss that saw him stripped of his super-featherweight titles on the scale, can the 25-year-old put it in the rearview and showcase why he’s so highly-rated in his final 130lb fight?
after weight miss, Stevenson confirms lightweight move
Shakur Stevenson vs. Robson Conceicao for vacant WBO, WBC super-featherweight titles
Stevenson weighed 131.6lbs, ineligible to win belts – only Conceicao can be crowned champion
Ringwalks estimated at 3am BST, Saturday
Now a father, engaged to be married and continuing on an upward trajectory, now-former two-belt super-featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson’s stock has risen plenty already in 2022.
Up until four hours ago, I was going to wax lyrical about why this presented a big chance to keep the momentum rolling Friday evening, but a weight miss (131.6lbs) has muddied the waters.
Critics accusing him of being a weight bully will lick their lips at this latest update, as he’ll be fined a percentage of his fight purse and questions over professionalism will remain, even after suggesting he just couldn’t make the weight any longer as he continues growing into his body.
Fighters miss weight, so on the surface it’s not that big of a deal – especially for an ambitious rising star who has long made his desire to move up in weight public.
World champions rarely do though, so the sight of this transgression will have many detractors immediately questioning whether he’s taking things as seriously as he needs to be.
The other super-featherweight titlists Hector Luis Garcia and Joe Cordina are similarly unbeaten and despite not being big names outside their respective countries, could have represented 2023 challenges as Shakur flirted with potentially becoming undisputed champion at 130lbs.
Instead, the 25-year-old will join a list of challengers – both veterans and budding youngsters – eager to dethrone Devin Haney after recently achieving undisputed status at 135lbs.
The man he did it against, George Kambosos Jr, has a rematch scheduled for Oct. 15 and it’s easy to forget now that the Australian endured his own weigh-in drama 24 hours beforehand.
Gervonta Davis, David Benavidez and others have also fallen foul on the scales, so while this is a short-term problem, people will quickly forget and again fawn over his boxing skills. That is, provided, he backs up the bullish talk by actually continuing to produce against the world’s best.
Conceicao might not be a household name, but that includes producing a memorable display against him too. Widely touted as one of the young stars poised to lead the way for boxing over the next decade, Shakur faces another stern test of his mettle – weight miss notwithstanding.
Conceicao’s amateur pedigree (405-15) is fantastic, while the Brazilian’s fighting style and recent form speaks for itself: a comfortable UD victory over previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez in January after narrowly losing to Oscar Valdez four months prior, a fight most felt he clearly won.
The 33-year-old could’ve easily fought Stevenson already for unified champion status earlier this year in the Mexican’s place, had the three judges ringside given him the nod against Valdez. Or, as the now-former champion said this week, he not appear to wilt as drastically as he did.
“Me personally, I felt like he let off the gas. He came out blazing in the first couple of rounds, on fire basically. As the fight went on, I don’t know if he gassed out but started moving too much, letting Valdez gain momentum and he picked up the pace. I thought it could’ve been a draw.”
It’ll be even more interesting now to see how Stevenson fares having missed weight, because he didn’t attempt to lose the extra 1.6lbs and many said he hasn’t looked as well-toned or defined as previous outings. Can he overwhelm Conceicao early or potentially tire in the later rounds?
Picture source: Getty Images