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Stevenson calls for family unification after beating his girlfriend's brother in world-title fight

The American beat the estranged older brother of his girlfriend, Jajaira Gonzalez, to win the vacant WBO featherweight title on Saturday.

Shakur Stevenson (file pic).
Shakur Stevenson (file pic).
Image: Joel Plummer

SHAKUR STEVENSON WASN’T especially adored by the majority of the Gonzalez family even before he dominated one of its sons, Joet Gonzalez, to win the WBO World featherweight title in Reno on Saturday.

A much-celebrated piece written by Mark Kriegel in ESPN in advance of Stevenson’s unanimous-decision title win had revealed that there was to be far more on the line than the WBO trinket when Stevenson and Gonzalez finally met in the middle: Stevenson is the boyfriend of Gonzalez’s younger sister, Jajaira, who has been estranged from her family since they learned of her relationship with the Newark native around three years ago.

Gonzalez and his father-trainer Jose haven’t been on speaking terms with Jajaira since, but when the dust settled following what was a facile victory for Stevenson on Saturday, the 22-year-old made a personal plea toward the portion of the Gonzalez family with which he is not romantically involved.

“I just wanna tell ‘em at the end of the day, this is business,” Stevenson told ESPN’s Kriegel in the ring. “Like, they wanted to fight me. I didn’t really wanna fight them. But can y’all please talk to y’all daughter? That’s all I’ve got to say. Please talk to y’all daughter and your sister.”

The WBO’s featherweight rankings led to the No.1-rated Stevenson facing the No.2-rated Gonzalez for what was a vacant 126-pound title, although top American prospect Stevenson [13-0, 7KOs)] had hoped to avoid fighting Gonzalez due to his relationship with Jajaira.

However, once Mexico’s Oscar Valdez gave up the WBO title to move up in weight, the fight became unavoidable unless Stevenson wished to bypass his first shot at a world title.

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The decision to take the fight was made easier from his perspective when prospective foe Gonzalez went on Michael Woods’ Talkbox podcast badmouthing Stevenson, claiming he would stop the 2016 Olympic silver medallist if they met in the professional ring.

Stevenson, however, attempted to extend the olive branch after dishing out something of a boxing lesson to Gonzalez.

“I told him that he a hell of a fighter,” said the young new champion. “He didn’t really wanna talk to me, but it is what it is. I ain’t trippin.’”

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