Stevenson vs. Marriaga this Saturday night
By Bill Tibbs
New Jersey’s Olympic silver medalist, and now undefeated professional champion Shakur Stevenson, will defend his WBO featherweight title against rugged veteran Miguel Marriaga on Saturday, March 14. The bout, promoted by Las Vegas’ Top Rank Boxing, is the headline fight on ESPN, live form Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater in New York.
The 22-year-old Stevenson (13-0, 7 KO’s), making his 3rd appearance at Madison Square Garden, had a strong 2019 picking up 4 wins including his title-winning effort against Joet Gonzalez in October to win the vacant belt. The belt became available when fellow Top Rank fighter Oscar Valdez moved up to the junior lightweight division.
Marriaga, (29-3, 25 KO’s), a 33-year-old Colombian veteran who is nothing if not game, has been bested by other Top Rank clients. However, in fairness, his only losses in 32 bouts have been in world title fights. He came up short against Nicholas Walters in 2015 in a WBA featherweight title attempt. He then lost to champ Oscar Valdez in a WBO featherweight title fight.
However, going the distance in that bout earned him a shot at P4P king Vasyl Lomachenko 4 months later in a WBO super featherweight title shot; he again came in 2nd. Marriaga seems to be able to handle the A- and B circuit but when he makes that step up to the game’s very best, he plays the role of bridesmaid. One would assume, if history repeats, Marriaga will give a spirited, albeit losing, effort against the much slicker Stevenson.
While the featherweight division holds lots of options for Stevenson, with some very recognizable names like Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jr., Jessie Magdaleno, fast rising Michael “Mick” Conlon or former champion, Ireland’s Carl Frampton, it is England’s IBF champion Josh Warrington that he has his eyes on.
This Big Apple gig is a nice spot for Stevenson to look good and stoke the fires for a Warrington bout later in the year.
In recent interviews, Stevenson made it clear that, while he isn’t looking past Marriaga, he definitely has Warrington on his mind.
Stevenson, never short on confident predictions, in regard to a Warrington matchup said, “I’m gonna f*** him up when we fight. I’m willingly ready to go to England. Pay me the right way and that’ll be the easiest fight to make ever because I want that fight bad,” said Stevenson.
First things first. Marriaga who has had 3 world title shots is hoping the 4th time is the charm. However, logic would dictate that, while Marriaga won’t be a walk in the park, the highly skilled Stevenson should control the action, Marriaga, and the scorecards on March 14th.
And, then fight fans can look forward to a summer matchup with fellow undefeated, and equally confident, Warrington.