|Where||MGM Grand Las Vegas|
|When||Saturday, April 30th, 11:15 ET|
|Shakur Stevenson odds||-700|
|Oscar Valdez odds||+500|
|TV||ESPN and ESPN+|
The beginning of a new championship lineage is up for grabs this weekend as Shakur Stevenson and Oscar Valdez collide in a classy-looking unification at 130lb.
In addition to the WBO and WBC belts held by Stevenson and Valdez respectively, the winner of the Top-Rank-promoted main event from the landmark MGM Grand in Las Vegas will be crowned the ‘true’ man to beat at super-featherweight, with both The Ring magazine and the independent Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) recognising the bout as a meeting between the consensus #1 and #2 in the weight class.
Both Stevenson and Valdez are thoroughbred competitors and were Olympian-level amateurs for the USA and Mexico respectively, with Stevenson earning a silver medal at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, it is in the paid ranks where they have truly excelled: still only 24 years of age, the prodigious Stevenson collected his first world title in just his 17th fight after outpointing Joet Gonzalez down at 126lb. Just four fights later, the Newark-born southpaw claimed world honors in a second weight class as he dismantled the very real threat of Jamel Herring inside ten rounds. With that stoppage, if it were not the case already, a star was born, and Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) steps into the ring on Saturday night as potentially the next truly major attraction in American boxing.
Like Stevenson, Valdez first forged a path at world level at featherweight before stepping up to 130lb. Credible wins over the likes of Scott Quigg and Miguel Marriaga firmly cemented the reputation of Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs), but few predicted that the all-action Mexican would upset the much-fancied Miguel Berchelt last February as a +275 underdog.
That +275 price tag on Valdez, though, looks tame in comparison to the chance he’s been given by the bookies here. Although there is some difference in opinion across the industry, he is a sizable outsider whichever way you might look. The Sonora native is a best-priced +500 with a range of firms, which suggests a win chance of less than 17%. Considering Valdez is unbeaten in 30 fights, more proven as a professional, and capably defused Berchelt - once thought to be one of the sport’s most dangerous punchers, to a casual observer - the contrarian argument could be that anything around five-to-one is simply too generous.
Some of the gloss of Valdez’s performance in the Berchelt fight, however, was taken off by a labored performance against Robson Conceicao in his very next outing. Although the official scorecards read that Valdez won clearly (117-110, 115-112, 115-112), the reality is that the bout was far closer, and indeed many experts had the Brazilian, a +600 underdog at worst, edging out the champion. This, combined with Stevenson’s technical superiority, momentum, and possibly even the perception that he would be his own promoter’s preference, means that the WBO man will start somewhere in the region of a -700 favorite, or an implied 88% win chance, with quotes as wide as -800 and -900 also available.
While it is hard to foresee Valdez’s combative style failing to notch him at least a few rounds, making a case for him to win outright perhaps relies on imagining what Stevenson is not, rather than what he has displayed himself to be already. The layers reinforce the idea that Valdez is unlikely to get the nod on the scorecards, with an enormous +1600 (6% implied chance) on offer that he impresses the judges enough to get a decision, meaning that the Mexican’s best shot - according to the oddsmakers - is to get the job done inside the distance (+700, 12.5%) and uncover a vulnerability yet to be seen in his opponent.
The notion that Stevenson, for all his offensive talents, is a safety-first operator was quietened by his spectacular showing against Herring — much at odds with the fighter we saw stroll to comprehensive, but mostly uneventful, decision wins in three of his four fights prior. Indeed, it is another Stevenson points win (-150, 60% implied) that is firmly favored in the Method of Victory prop this weekend, but that quote looks a touch short if his last performance gave a glimpse of a burgeoning young fighter more comfortable throwing caution to the wind.
A price of +250 for Stevenson to win inside the distance implies a win probability of 29%, which compares well to his 9 KOs in 17 wins (53%), but it is difficult to see Valdez relenting early. The American to win anywhere in the second half of what could be an enthralling affair seems a feasible outcome, and aligns with Stevenson’s last two stoppages, both of which took place in the back end of those fights. While the distance - and a Stevenson decision with it - feels most likely, -150 appears to be well-pitched. More appealing is the +450 on the Stevenson 7-12 prop (18% implied), which looks the value here.
Valdez vs Stevenson free boxing pick:
Shakur Stevenson in rounds 7-12 (+450)
Shakur Stevenson will attempt to topple Oscar Valdez in the main event of action packed card in Las Vegas. Here's the full undercard:
Keyshawn Davis vs. Esteban Sanchez; Lightweight
Nico Ali Walsh vs. Alejandro Ibarra; Middleweight
Raymond Muratalla vs. Jeremy Hill; Lightweight
Andres Cortes vs. Alexis del Bosque; Super featherweight
Abdullah Mason vs. Luciano Ramos; Lightweight
Troy Isley vs. TBA; Middleweight
Charlie Sheehy vs. Burnell Jenkins; Lightweight
Antoine Cobb vs. Jaylan Phillips; Super lightweight
ESPN and ESPN+ will show the fight live in the US, while Sky Sports will show it in the UK and Ireland. The Valdez vs Stevenson fight can be streamed on your laptop, smartphone or iPad by visiting ESPN.com.
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