Plans already exist for Shakur Stevenson to be matched with Vasyl Lomachenko in 2024.
On Thursday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Stevenson fights Edwin de los Santos for the WBC lightweight title.
In the build-up to his opportunity to establish himself as a three-weight world champion he has repeatedly spoken of his desire to fight Ukraine’s Lomachenko next.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum has instead confirmed that, as has long been suggested, they hope that Lomachenko will fight George Kambosos Jr in Australia next year. If he wins – and he would be the favourite – he would then likely fight Stevenson in a unification title fight at 135lbs.
“They’re all impatient, these kids,” Arum told ProBox TV. “The current plan is to have Lomachenko try to win a title in Australia with Kambosos, and then match two champions against each other. He’ll fight Lomachenko sometime next year, but I can’t say it’ll be his next fight.
“The plan is to have that fight in Australia and that’s what we’re working on now. Probably first quarter sometime, I don’t know exactly the date, but the first quarter.
“That’s certainly not what we’ve been told [that Lomachenko is planning to retire], and we’re close to Lomachenko and his people – and this is the first I’m hearing one more fight and he’s gonna retire. I don’t think that’s accurate.
“[Stevenson] has the skill set of Lomachenko, but he is much younger, and therefore has much more room to develop even further. He will, I think, be a legendary fighter. I would be really surprised if he didn’t become an all-time great.”
Stevenson, at 26 two years older than De Los Santos, will have one fight remaining on his contract with Top Rank, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s fight.
“We’re very close with him and his management, so we hope to get an extension,” Arum continued. “In any sport, sometimes the athlete becomes a free agent, and he looks around at what is his best opportunity, and I think he’s happy with his – his management’s happy with us – so we’re optimistic that we’ll re-sign him to an extension. But it’s quite correct that after one more fight he is a free agent.
“We’d love to retain Shakur because he’s a great attraction; he’s a great talent. He’s a great fighter, but [Terence] Crawford was a great fighter. He didn’t re-sign with us, but our business is thriving just as well without him.
“[Stevenson’s] very marketable. He’s got a great smile. We’re teaching him; he’s learning about social media, and he’s a very intelligent kid. He will continue to grow his popularity, and certainly he’s extraordinarily talented.”