Shakur Stevenson will make the first defense of his WBO featherweight title on Sat. March 14 against Miguel Marriaga in a headlining bout at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. It’ll be Stevenson’s first showing since cruising to victory against Joet Gonzalez in October to pick up the belt that Oscar Valdez vacated before moving up to 130 pounds.
The Stevenson (13-0, 7 knockouts) of Newark, N.J. will face a more experienced foe in Marriaga (29-3, 25 KOs), a 33-year-old Colombian who fell short in title opportunities against Nicholas Walters (UD12), Oscar Valdez (UD12) and Vasiliy Lomachenko (KO by 7). Marriaga has won four straight fights against nondescript opposition.
Marriaga had turned down an offer to face Stevenson last July, but made an effective gamble by getting to face the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in a title fight instead.
“We’ve been trying to make this fight with Miguel Marriaga for a long time now,” Stevenson said in a Top Rank press release. “I wanted a strong opponent for my first title defense. He’s been in the ring with multiple world champions, and I am ready to prove that I am the best featherweight in the world.”
“I always wanted this fight, and the time is right now that he’s a world champion,” Marriaga said. “He speaks often about how people are ducking him, but here I am. Colombia will have a new world champion March 14.”
That card will be co-headlined by former WBO junior featherweight titleholder Jessie Magdaleno (27-1, 18 KOs) against unbeaten Sakaria Lukas (23-0, 16 KOs) of Namibia in a 10-round featherweight bout.
Both of those bouts will be televised live by ESPN and ESPN Deportes, beginning at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Three days later, Michael Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) will fight in the Big Apple for the fourth straight year on St. Patrick’s Day, headlining another card at The Garden’s smaller room against Colombian Belmar Preciado (20-2-1, 13 KOs) in a ten-round featherweight bout, on a card that begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN+. That fight will be anchored by unbeaten U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer against former champion Melissa Hernandez in a 10-rounder.
“I know how tough Preciado is, but this fight is a great test as I continue on my path towards becoming a world champion,” said Conlan. “Fighting in New York City is very special for me. The fans have been very supportive right from the beginning at my pro debut on St. Patrick’s Day in 2017, and I look forward to putting on another tremendous show for them this year.”
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