Prodigious young talent Shakur Stevenson fights for the WBO world featherweight title vacated by Oscar Valdez against Joet Gonzalez (23-0-0, 14 Ko's) on Saturday, October 26th, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, in Reno, Nevada after only 12 professional outings.
At 22-years of age, there are those that would advise some caution with pushing the youngster into the cauldron of world-class talent at 126lbs. Gary Russell Jr, Josh Warrington, and Leo Santa Cruz hold the other three world title belts and all would start as favourites over Stevenson were those fights to be made right now. Bob Arum of Top Rank, Stevenson's promoter will steer their charge around any unification fights in the immediate future, providing of course that he wins the vacant WBO belt against Gonzalez.
The 25-year-old Gonzalez should be able to ask a few more questions of Stevenson. Although he will have big disadvantages in speed of foot and hand the Californian fights with plenty of fire in his belly. Good wins over Rafael Rivera and Manuel Avila proved that he was ready to contest a world title.
But in Stevenson, Gonzalez meets a fighter that many, including 87-year-old promoter Bob Arum, believe can go on to rule the featherweight division before moving up in weight and winning multiple world titles. He may be right but there are still levels at which he hasn't proved himself. How will he fare against a battle-tested Leo Santa Cruz? Or Gary Russell Jr who will match him for speed? All questions for the future.
Joet Gonzalez is not the man to pose a real threat to Stevenson. Although a rock-solid performer, he lacks that turn of pace that you need to keep up with the flashy southpaw skills of Stevenson.
Prediction: Stevenson to win a wide points decision.