Jessie Magdaleno is in better position to challenge Gary Russell Jr. than he is to face Shakur Stevenson.
Magdaleno is the WBC’s number one challenger for Russell’s featherweight title, though that fight has not yet been mandated. He is the WBO’s fourth-ranked contender for Stevenson’s 126-pound crown.
If he can’t land a shot at the long-reigning Russell (31-1, 18 KOs) in his next bout, though, Magdaleno gladly would fight Stevenson instead.
The 22-year-old Stevenson (14-0, 8 KOs) said before his sixth-round knockout of Felix Caraballo on Tuesday night that he won’t remain at featherweight if he can’t secure a title unification fight against Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs), the IBF 126-pound champion, next. Nevertheless, Stevenson and Magdaleno both are promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. and Magdaleno (28-1, 18 KOs) would be a credible opponent if Stevenson decides to remain at featherweight.
“I fear nobody,” Magdaleno told BoxingScene.com. “At the end of the day, it’s my job to go in there and kick ass. It’ll be a great fight between me and Shakur. A lot of people think he runs, and he moves too much and all that. But you’ve just gotta play it smart and use all your ability that you can to fight a type of fighter like that. That’d be another great fight that I would look forward to.”
Magdaleno remained in contention for featherweight title bouts by beating Dominican veteran Yenifel Vicente (36-5-2, 28 KOs, 1 NC) by 10th-round disqualification Thursday night at MGM Grand Conference Center in Las Vegas. Referee Robert Byrd disqualified Vicente for repeatedly hitting Magdaleno with low blows.
If Stevenson vacates his title, Magdaleno also would welcome a fight for it against Northern Ireland’s Michael Conlan, the WBO’s number one contender for Stevenson’s title. Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) also is promoted by Top Rank.
“If Stevenson is gonna vacate it, that leaves me and Mick Conlan to go after it,” Magdaleno said. “And that’s another great fight to go after because we both throw a lot of punches and we’re both very talented fighters.”
Las Vegas’ Magdaleno and Belfast’s Conlan became friends when they both were trained by Manny Robles in Carson, California.
“He’s very fast, he’s slick, he has great movement,” Magdaleno said. “I worked alongside Mick Conlan. I know his ins and outs, and how he is. He’s a strong fighter. We shared the ring before, and those were great sparring matches. So, I think it’ll be cool to fight with him for a world title.”
Ruben Villa would be an obstacle if Stevenson vacates his title and Top Rank attempts to make a Conlan-Magdaleno match for an unclaimed WBO belt.
The WBO would likely order a bout between Conlan and the second-ranked Villa (18-0, 5 KOs), a southpaw from Salinas, California. Villa told BoxingScene.com recently that he would fight Conlan in Belfast for a shot at the WBO’s 126-pound title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.