Shakur Stevenson condemns Devin Haney for taking "easier option" when he moved up to super-lightweight to box Regis Prograis; Stevenson faces Edwin De Los Santos for vacant WBC title as he bids to become a three-weight champion, watch live on Sky Sports Arena from 1.30am Friday
Friday 17 November 2023 05:50, UK
Shakur Stevenson fights for the world title Devin Haney used to hold when he faces Edwin De Los Santos at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas overnight.
Stevenson boxes De Los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight belt, live on Sky Sports in the early hours of Friday morning.
"It's legacy," the American told Sky Sports. "It'll be my third weight class I win a world title in, but I'm definitely trying to put on a performance and show the world that I'm here, that I am the top guy at 135lbs."
Stevenson stepped up to lightweight and made it clear he was targeting Devin Haney.
Haney held all four of the major belts at 135lbs and beat Vasiliy Lomachenko in a close fight earlier this year. The WBC belt though was left vacant when Haney moved up to super-lightweight to fight Regis Prograis.
Stevenson lambasted Haney for that decision. "He felt like the fight with Regis was an easier fight. If he's got me in front of him and Regis in front of him, he felt like a fight with Regis would be an easier option," he said.
"He's the guy that goes for a lot of easier options in his career. He'll fight a lot of people as soon as they have a bad performance, then he's ready to get in the ring with them. I think that's the type of fighter that he is.
"He fought Lomachenko right after Lomachenko had a bad performance against Jamaine Ortiz, Regis was just coming off a bad performance. I feel like that's what he likes to do. I honestly think that if you are a true champion and you have a close fight with somebody like he did with Lomachenko, you've got to run it back, instead of running away from the smoke.
"If you're a true champion and you're who you say you are, you'll fight people at their best."
He contrasts that with his own attitude. "I like competition," Stevenson said.
"The way I came up I wanted to go against the best. Which is the reason why I've been in the ring with a lot of the best fighters in the world. I've been sparring Terence Crawford my whole career. I feel like I love being in the ring with the best fighters. That's who I am as a person."
He wants to fight Haney and Lomachenko eventually himself. "I've just got to keep doing what I'm doing and hope that one day they say yes," he said.
"You can't force somebody to do what they don't want to do. Maybe I've got to show a wrinkle before [Haney] will get in the ring with me. We'll see later on down the line."
"I think people know how good I am," Stevenson added. "Everybody knows how good I am. They know that I'm the truth. So a lot of people don't want to fight me unless it's forced."
He intends to continue winning titles and to become a three-weight champion against De Los Santos.
"I got some respect for him for taking the fight," Stevenson said. "He's got a high skill level of boxing, he probably believes in himself.
"I do see that he's a good boxer. He picks his punches well, he's got good movement."
But Stevenson insisted: "I've never seen nothing in nobody that could threaten me."
The event is a showcase moment for Stevenson. The fight night, with Emanuel Navarrete defending his WBO super-featherweight title against Robson Conceicao, ties in with the Formula 1 race in Las Vegas.
"Shakur is such a brilliant boxer with an incredible pedigree as an amateur, incredible body of work. Everybody knows how good he is and now it's just for us to put him in those opportunities," Top Rank's Todd duBoef tells Sky Sports.
"[Navarrete] is going to be in a real tough fight," he continued. "I could eventually see them, Navarrete and Shakur heading towards each other. Navarrete has mentioned it: 'I want to try climbing Everest,' which is Shakur Stevenson.
"Coupling this with Formula 1 is just so unique and it's something which I think is really good for the fighters, good for the audience, great for the sports fans and exposing it to the Formula 1 crowd. Great for the city of Las Vegas.
"So we're really excited."
Watch Shakur Stevenson and Emanuel Navarrete in a world championship double-header from 1.30am on Friday morning live on Sky Sports Arena.