BoxingScene.com has learned that Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and Tom Brown’s TBG Promotions came to a financial agreement on a Shakur Stevenson-Frank Martin lightweight title fight at the 11th hour late Tuesday morning.
A WBC purse bid for their intriguing lightweight championship match, scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, was therefore canceled. Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) and Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) will meet in a 135-pound title fight that ESPN will televise as part of its exclusive content partnership with Top Rank.
The date and the site of the Stevenson-Martin fight couldn’t be confirmed when this story was posted. Arum told BoxingScene.com recently, though, that Stevenson’s next fight was tentatively scheduled to take place November 16, a Thursday night, in Las Vegas.
Regardless, Stevenson-Martin is one of the best bouts that could be made within the lightweight division.
Stevenson had hoped to challenge undefeated, undisputed lightweight champ Devin Haney for his four titles, but Haney (30-0, 15 KOs) has been negotiating to move up to the 140-pound division to challenge WBC super lightweight champ Regis Prograis (29-1, 24 KOs) in his next fight. The WBC consequently rendered Haney its lightweight champion in recess and ordered Stevenson-Martin once former lightweight champ Vasiliy Lomachenko turned down an opportunity to face Stevenson next.
Ukraine’s Lomachenko (17-3, 11 KOs), who lost a closely contested 12-round fight against Haney on May 20 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, remains the WBC’s number one-ranked lightweight contender.
It seemed that Tuesday’s purse bid would proceed as planned until Top Rank (Stevenson) and TGB (Martin) reached an agreement with little time to spare.
Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey native who is ranked second by the WBC in the 135-pound division, would’ve been entitled to 60 percent of the winning bid because he is the WBC’s mandatory challenger. Martin, the WBC’s fourth-ranked lightweight contender, would’ve received 40 percent of the highest bid, according to the WBC’s rules.
Top Rank has promoted Stevenson since the 2016 Olympic silver medalist and two-weight world champion turned pro six years ago.
TGB Promotions works with Indianapolis’ Martin on behalf of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Errol Spence Jr.’s company, Man Down Promotions, is Martin’s primary promoter.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.