Top Rank world champions converge in Carson, California

Top Rank world champions converge in Carson, California

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - This Saturday April 22, Bob Arum and Top Rank Boxing bring fight fans a world championship triple header live from the Stubhub Center in Carson, California.

Headlining the event, from Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, will be the undefeated WBO Featherweight Champion Oscar Valdez (22-0, 19 KO’s) as he takes on the NABO Featherweight Champion Miguel Marriaga (25-1, 21 KO's) of Arjona, Colombia. Marriaga, whose only loss came by way of decision to former world champion Nicholas Walters in June of 2015, is a solid boxer with devastating power and is looking to upset Valdez, who will be making his second defense of his title.

We are going to fight for a world title and it is a great joy for me and for all of the Colombian people. It is a great opportunity and we must take advantage of it. We hope that everything is given to us. We are preparing very hard to make sure that title comes back to Colombia.
— Miguel Marriaga

Valdez secured his first world title on the undercard of the Terence Crawford vs. Viktor Postol bout in July of last year. Nevertheless, Valdez knows he can't take his foot off the gas pedal and has keep winning in order to stay at the top of the featherweight division.

Marriaga is a tough tough fighter and has a lot of experience in the ring, but that’s why we train hard to win these fights. This is the biggest, most difficult fight of my life. I want to be aggressive and take control, but I need to be intelligent while doing it. I am a world champion, but I am still hungry. I know how special this fight is and I know a win over Marriaga will make me a better champion. I’ve never worked harder for a fight. Marriaga is the real deal and we know it.
— Oscar Valdez

In the co-main event, the WBO super middleweight Champion Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramírez (34-0, 24 KO’s), from Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico, will return to action after a long layoff due to a hand injury to face Max Bursak (33-4-1, 15 KO’s) of Kiev, Ukraine. Ramirez, who won his world title in a shutout decision victory over titleholder Arthur Abraham last year on the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley, Jr. III undercard, will be making the first title defense Saturday.

I’m ready to get back in the ring and defend my title for the first time. I know there are a lot of fighters looking to fight me and challenge for my title, but right now I’m focused on my fight against Max Bursak. Let’s see what happens after that. I’ll fight anyone. I want the best. It’s an honor to fight at Stubhub Center where there have been so many great fights. I know there will be a lot of fans supporting me.
— Gilberto Ramirez

Also on the card is undefeated WBO junior featherweight champion Jessie Magdelano (24-0, 17 KO’s) as he also makes his first title defense against WBO latino champion Adeilson Dos Santos (18-2, 14 KO’s) of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Magdelano, who won the title last year with a unanimous decision victory over the veteran Nonito Donaire, recently revealed that Donaire has been in the gym with Dos Santos.

When you are a world champion, you have a target on your back. Every challenger in my division wants a piece of me — including Dos Santos. I know he has been training in Las Vegas and I heard Nonito Donaire has been in the gym with him. That will not make any difference for Dos Santos. It’s hard to mimic my style. I am keeping the belt.
— Jessie Magdelano

Lastly is 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson as he makes his professional debut against Edgar Brito (3-2-1, 2 KO’s) in a scheduled four-round featherweight bout. 

I’m so excited. I can’t wait for my pro debut. I plan on entertaining the fans.
— Shakur Stevenson

Stevenson, 19, is the oldest of nine siblings and a Newark native who was born on the day Mike Tyson bit part of Evander Holyfield’s ear off. Stevenson won silver in bantamweight division in Rio after entering the Olympics with a perfect 23-0 international record and became the closest U.S. male boxer to win an Olympic gold medal since Andre Ward in 2004. Stevenson lost in the gold medal match to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez.

Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Tecate, All Star Boxing, Zapari Boxing Promotions and Antonio Leonard Productions, the world championship event will take place this Saturday, Aprill 22, at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. It will be produced and distributed live by Top Rank Pay-Per-View. 

Anthony "Stacks" Saldaña is a contributing writer for You can follow him on Twitter @StacksRingside 

(Feature photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

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