Shakur Stevenson pinpoints the reason why Oscar Valdez decided to fight him

Shakur Stevenson clashes with Oscar Valdez this weekend and victory would place him in the Pound for Pound rankings.

Shakur Stevenson has the chance to become the unified super featherweight champion when he faces his fellow Top Rank rival Oscar Valdez this Saturday at the MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas.

Yet, Stevenson believes that the Mexican fighter only agreed to their 130lbs unification bout because he was made to by trainer Eddy Reynoso and stablemate Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez.

The rivalry between the two champions originated from their days at featherweight, when the American southpaw was chasing a fight with Valdez who was the WBO featherweight champion at the time.

After six successful defences, Valdez vacated the title to pursue world honours at super featherweight, which he achieved when he dominated the former WBC champion Miguel Berchelt. The 31-year-old won the prestigious green and gold belt via a tenth-round highlight reel knockout.

It was Stevenson who picked up the vacated belt, however defeating fellow undefeated fighter Joet Gonzalez towards the end of 2019. Like Valdez, the New Jersey native soon vacated the title in his pursuit for legacy and became a two-weight world champion when he beat Jamel Herring for the WBO super featherweight belt.

After following similar paths for the duration of their careers, they will now finally meet this weekend. Stevenson believes Valdez's team was the reason the fight has now been made.

"I just feel like he's Mexican and he's got people around him that's just not gonna allow him to keep acting like I'm not there, acting like I don't exist.

"I think that his team - Canelo, Eddy Reynoso and them guys - told him, 'You need this fight. You gotta fight him. As a Mexican, we're warriors. We don't back down from no challenges.' So, I think that played a major part.

"I feel like, more so, a lot of other people wanted the fight to happen" Stevenson said. "And I feel like they kinda pushed him towards it. I don't think he truthfully really wanted this fight"

Stevenson, who won silver at the 2016 Olympic games, was unhappy with his promoter Bob Arum who was looking to stage an all-Mexican affair between Valdez and the current WBO featherweight champion, Emmanuel Navarrete.

With Valdez seemingly off the table, speculation arose of a potential bout between Stevenson and Vasiliy Lomachenko - who would've come down from lightweight to face the 24-year-old champion.

With neither of the fights materialising, Arum decided to move forward with the unification contest to the delight of fans and Stevenson.

"I'm just very appreciative, I feel like I deserve this fight. I feel like I put the work in. I brought myself to this point and I just feel like it needs to happen.

"I appreciate Bob, Top Rank and everybody who did whatever they had to do to make this happen."

With Stevenson determined on chasing history, this Saturday will present another chance to add a new chapter to cementing his name with the best in boxing history.

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