Here are the most eye-catching stories from this weekend’s boxing news and ring action:
– Shakur Stevenson made his lightweight debut look easy on Saturday at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, dropping Japan’s Shuichiro Yoshino twice en route to a dominant sixth round TKO victory.
With the win, the 25-year-old Stevenson officially wades into the deep end of a very talented lightweight talent pool. At the top of the division is unified champ Devin Haney, who’ll be defending his four belts against former 3-belt lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko on May 20. Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia, who’ll be facing one another on April 22 in a catchweight 136 lb. blockbuster, are also major players at the top of the division. Below those names, there are contenders like Isaac Cruz, William Zepeda, George Kambosos, and Frank Martin. Hopefully, Stevenson, who is definite pound-for-pound top dog material, gets a chance to fight any of the above mentioned lightweights.
On the Stevenson-Yoshino undercard, top prospects and future stars heavyweight Jared Anderson and lightweight Keyshawn Davis stopped tough, game challengers George Arias and Anthony Yigit in the third and ninth rounds, respectively.
– In the upset of the evening, Brian Mendoza stopped interim WBC super welterweight champ Sebastian Fundora with a brutal sequence of punches in the seventh round that began with a big left hook.
The 29-year-old Mendoza weathered a couple of early storms against the 6-foot-6 rising star, but held firm to pull off his second straight highlight reel underdog KO victory. Last November, the Albuquerque, New Mexico native stopped former 2-belt super welterweight champ Jeison Rosario in the fifth round.
The victory now puts Mendoza in line for a shot at the winner of the bout between unified 154 lb. champ Jermell Charlo and second-generation star Tim Tszyu.
– At the Boeing Center in San Antonio, Texas, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez became a two-division world champion by beating Cristian Gonzalez via unanimous twelve-round decision to take the vacant WBO flyweight title. The official scores were 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112, all in favor of “Bam.” The 23-year-old Rodriguez previously held the WBC super flyweight belt, becoming the youngest fighter to ever capture that title back in February of last year.
On the Rodriguez-Gonzalez undercard, Filipino veteran Marlon Tapales scored an upset of his own when he beat IBF/WBA super featherweight champion Murodjon Akhmadaliev via split decision by scores of 115-113 and 115-113, with one judge scoring 118-110 in favor of Akhmadaliev.
– Former 2-belt junior welterweight world champ Amir Khan was issued a backdated 2-year suspension by the UK Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD). The 2004 Olympic silver medalist representing the UK tested positive for the banned substance ostarine following his February, 2022 TKO loss to Kell Brook. UKAD has specified, however, that only trace amounts of the substance were found in Khan’s system and they believe his use was unintentional. Still, given their zero tolerance stance when it comes to prohibited substances, a suspension had to be issued. Most felt that, following the Brook loss, the 36-year-old Khan was headed towards retirement anyway.
– Hopes of a Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk title unification clash were dashed over a week ago. Now, the death of that big ticket bout has pretty much been confirmed with the WBA’s order of a mandatory defense for Usyk against Daniel Dubois. IBF/WBA/WBO champ Usyk is not likely to vacate his WBA belt, so it looks as though this Dubois defense is next.
– WBC junior welterweight champ Regis Prograis declared himself a promotional free agent via social media video last week. The 34-year-old two-time 140 lb. champ was previously tied to the now-defunct Probellum promotional company headed by former Golden Boy exec Richard Schaefer. Prograis’ free agent status opens the door to big fight opportunities against the likes of Jose Ramirez and the winners of Josh Taylor-Teofimo Lopez and Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia.