Featherweight Stevenson to fight Manzanilla

Boxing

Fast-rising featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson will take on former world title challenger Franklin Manzanilla when Stevenson makes his hometown professional debut at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, on July 13.

Manzanilla, announced as Stevenson’s opponent for the 10-round bout on Tuesday, replaces original opponent Hairon Socarras (22-0-3, 13 KOs), who dropped out of the fight over various unspecified issues, according to Top Rank.

Stevenson-Manzanilla will headline the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN card (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10:30 p.m. with preliminaries streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m. ET). “It doesn’t matter who I fight. I am ready to put on a show for my hometown,” Stevenson said. “Newark is going to be out in full force, and I know a victory on July 13 will move me closer to a world-title shot, which is my ultimate goal.”

Stevenson (11-0, 6 KOs), a 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, who turns 22 on Friday, has fought three times in New York but not yet as a professional in nearby Newark, where he grew up. He is coming off his biggest win as a pro, a lopsided 10-round decision against former junior lightweight world title challenger Christopher Diaz on April 20 on the Terence Crawford-Amir Khan undercard at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Manzanilla (18-5, 17 KOs), 30, of Colombia, will be fighting in the United States for the second time in a row. In his last fight, on Feb. 9, he challenged junior featherweight world titleholder Rey Vargas and lost a unanimous decision — 117-108 on all three scorecards — in Indio, California, in a fight in which he knocked Vargas down in the second round.

“I fought for a world title against Rey Vargas in my last fight, and I let that opportunity slip away,” Manzanilla said. “Against Shakur, I don’t want that to happen to me again. It will be an honor to be in the ring with an Olympian on such a big stage. I am inspired to give the fans a great show and crash the party.”

In the co-feature, bantamweight prospect Joshua Greer Jr. (20-1-1, 12 KOs), 25, of Chicago, will face Nikolai Potapov (20-1-1, 11 KOs), 29, a Russia native fighting out of New York, in a title eliminator for the No. 2 ranking in the IBF.

Top Rank also announced that the ESPN+ portion of the card will include:

• Vijender Singh (10-0, 7 KOs), 33, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist from India and his country’s only boxing medalist, will face Mike Snider (13-5-3, 8 KOs), 38, of Flemington, West Virginia, in an eight-round super middleweight bout. Singh will be fighting for the first time since December 2017.

• Lightweight prospect Joseph Adorno (12-0, 10 KOs), 20, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, will square off with Adriano Ramirez (10-3, 6 KOs), 35, of the Dominican Republic, in an eight-round bout.

• Junior middleweight Vito Mielnicki Jr., son of promoter Vito Mielnicki, will become the first New Jersey boxer to turn pro at the age of 17 when he faces Mississippi’s Tamarcus Smith (2-2, 2 KOs), 24, in a four-rounder. Mielnicki was given a special exemption to turn pro at 17 from the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.

• Junior welterweight Julian Rodriguez (16-0, 10 KOs), 24, of Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, will return from a nearly two-year layoff to fight Hevinson Herrera (24-17-1, 18 KOs), 34, of Colombia, in a six-rounder.

• Junior welterweight Josue Vargas (13-1, 8 KOs), 21, who is from Puerto Rico and fights out of Bronx, New York, will go for his eighth win in a row when he faces Manuel Lopez (14-3-1, 7 KOs), 28, of Denver, in an eight-round fight.

• Junior welterweight John Bauza (12-0, 5 KOs), 21, of North Bergen, New Jersey, will face Angel Sarinana (10-8-2, 4 KOs), 26, of Mexico, in an eight-rounder.

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