There’s no love lost between Newark, New Jersey’s 🥈🇺🇸Shakur Stevenson (12-0-0, 7KO) and 🇺🇸Joet Gonzalez (23-0-0, 14KO) of Glendora, California and neither fighter will tell you any different ahead of their fight at the Reno Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada Saturday (ESPN 10pm ET/7pm PT).
Stevenson, the WBO #1 contender, and Gonzalez who sits at #2, will settle their differences with the winner collecting the vacant WBO Featherweight title that was previously held by Oscar Valdez before he made his move up to 130 pounds.
There’s a common theme in boxing today, where fighters will trade verbal jabs, calling each other out on social media and YouTube clips, while fans sit and stew waiting for an actual fight to take place. That’s not the case here as Gonzalez let it be known that he wanted a crack at the 2016 Olympic Silver medalist and Stevenson had no hesitation in obliging him.
If you want to know the source of the contempt the two hold for each other, the majority of it seems to center around the relationship between Stevenson and Gonzalez’s younger sister. Going into any further details would go off the rails of actual boxing, but it’s worth noting that Bob Arum, the 87 year old legend of fight promotions is eating it all up calling it “Boxings own West Side Story”.
As far as the actual fight, the betting favorite is Stevenson, as he has been one of the most highly touted prospects since coming out of the 2016 Olympics and turning pro one year later. Top Rank promotions has not been shy about how they feel about Stevenson’s long term potential, already giving him a hometown headliner just 12 professional fights in. In that bout this past July, which was his last time in the ring, he put on a show for his New Jersey fans, stopping Alberto Guevara in three rounds.
Gonzalez has a five year edge in professional experience over Stevenson, but has never had the blue chip pedigree or accolades of the New Jersey southpaw. In his last outing Gonzalez knocked out Manuel Avila in six rounds, his third win in a row by knockout. Saturday night will serve as his proving ground three fold, as he will get a chance to settle his personal vendetta against Stevenson, collect a title, and prove his name should be mentioned with the best in the featherweight division.
Opening odds: Stevenson (-588)