Stevenson wins WBO featherweight title

By Emerson Marcus, Associated Press

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez took family drama into the ring Saturday night — Stevenson is dating Gonzalez’s sister, and there’s bad blood on both sides of that relationship.

Stevenson made that clear after proving too quick and skilled for Gonzalez and claiming the vacant WBO featherweight title in a unanimous decision.

“Joet is nothing,” Stevenson said, adding an expletive. “I got no respect for Joet. If the wants to be cool, I’ll be cool with him.”

Stevenson’s fast strikes and elusiveness were on display throughout, but especially in the first six rounds.

Gonzalez (12-1, 7 KOs) edged Stevenson (24-0, 14 KOs) in the seventh round with his ability to get inside, landing body blows with Stevenson backed in the corner. But those moments were rare for Gonzalez, 26, of Glendora, California, as Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, cruised to victory.

Judges turned in identical scorecards of 119-109.

“It’s an amazing feeling. … I want Josh Warrington,” Stevenson said of the undefeated British boxer (30-0, 7 KOs) after the fight. “You said you wasn’t going to fight me until I got a title. I got a title now. Let’s work.”

Bob Arum, the CEO of Top Rank Boxing, also alluded to Stevenson moving up in weight class.

“I want him to fight a couple more fights before he moves up,” Arum said. He added: “(Stevenson) reminds me of a left-handed Floyd Mayweather.”

After the fight, Stevenson said he loved Gonzalez’s sister, but didn’t mention anything else about the relationship. He claims that Gonzalez and his father, Jose Gonzalez, refuse to welcome him into the family. Gonzalez has alluded to issues around Twitter messages that have not gone public.

In the ring, though, Stevenson proved his dominance in front of 2,828 in Reno, capping his fast ascension since going pro after the 2016 Olympics. Stevenson is the first male fighter of the 2016 Rio Olympics to win a world title.

It was Stevenson’s first fight since his father, Alfredo Rivera, died of a heart attack on Sept. 29.

Oscar Valdez, who had claimed the featherweight title since 2016, recently moved up in weight, leaving the spot vacant, which opened an opportunity for Gonzalez and Stevenson.

Saturday’s bout was the first since June for both fighters.

The co-feature of the night saw bantamweight Joshua Greer, Jr. (22-1-1, 12 KO) defeat Antonio Nieves (19-3-2, 11 KO) in an unanimous decision (95-94, 95-94, 96-93).

“I am ready for a world title opportunity,” said Greer, from Chicago. “It doesn’t matter who they put me in front of me, I will do the job.”

In the only women’s fight of the night, super featherweight and 2016 U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer (12-0, 4 Kos) dominated Argentinian Alejandra Zamora (7-4, 1 KO) in a technical knockout after six rounds. Moments before the seventh round started, the referee stopped the fight.

“I am ready for the next challenge. I want a world title,” Mayer said. “I think for the past two years I have shown that I am ready for a world title. I have shown it by easily dispatching all the fighters that have been put in front of me.”