Three-division world champion Shakur Stevenson has reached a career crossroads. 

The Newark, New Jersey native Stevenson (21-0, 10 KOs) will look to defend his WBC lightweight title in a homecoming fight against Artem Harutyunyan (12-1, 7 KOs) on July 6 at the Prudential Center.

The fight will mark Stevenson’s last under his current contract with Top Rank, and the 26-year-old is looking to land more of the career-defining fights he’s seeking. 

Stevenson is also looking to reset and make a statement after a sour performance against Edwin De Los Santos in November. Stevenson’s unanimous decision win drew criticism due to the lack of action in the fight. Stevenson later revealed he was dealing with a shoulder injury heading into the fight.

By January, a fed up Stevenson abruptly announced his retirement only to reverse course a few days later. 

“I don’t know. We will see,” Stevenson told BoxingScene about his pending free agency. “As of right now, I can’t tell you exactly what I am going to do. I’m just watching. Paying attention and taking my notes. I’m going to have to make a decision after July 6. I do like the free agent thing, and fighting one-fight and two-fight deals. That is a good situation to be in.”

Stevenson wants to leverage his freedom to his advantage much like Terence Crawford and Canelo Alvarez have in recent years to get the best fights at the right time.

“We’ve had a great run with Shakur,” Arum told BoxingScene. “He’s an incredible fighter with incredible skills. But our contract is over and he’ll clearly be a free agent after the July 6 fight. Hopefully we’ll maintain a relationship with Shakur. We’ll see how it all plays out.”

Although the lightweight division is loaded with talent, Stevenson said he didn’t have a choice but to face Harutyunyan despite Top Rank stablemates Vasiliy Lomachenko and Emanuel Navarette being within arm’s reach. 

Harutyunyan nearly bested Frank Martin last year before fading in the final rounds.

“That was the only opponent that was presented to me. I didn’t get another opponent. Honestly, I was cool with it,” said Stevenson. “People can gauge performances [with Martin fighting Gervonta Davis in June] and see the differences.” 

Stevenson said he is willing to bet on himself and perhaps even take the shorter end of the stick during negotiations – much like he did against Oscar Valdez in 2022 – to get the highly desired fights he is looking for against Davis, Lomachenko, Ryan Garcia, and others. 

“I don’t mind doing that. I love making money, but if it’s something to get my foot in the door to turn me into a big PPV superstar, I’m down to do that too,” said Stevenson. 

“I’m ready for the big stage. As the lights get brighter, I get better and shine. I’m ready for anyone. It’s the dangerous version of me right now. Hopefully, we’ll get one of these big fighters to give me an opportunity.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer, and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and the MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, through email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at], or via

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