The sport was to a near three-month hiatus amid the growing threat of the coronavirus pandemic, but now the time has come for boxing to make its long-awaited comeback on Tuesday night (7 p.m. ET; ESPN and streaming on ESPN+) as Top Rank presents a card in Las Vegas headlined by rising star Shakur Stevenson.
No, the 22-year-old Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs), who is named after the late Tupac and won a silver medal at the 2016 Olympics, won't be defending his WBO featherweight title. He also won't be facing off against a household name in this 130-pound main event against Felix Caraballo.
If you're having trouble placing Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs), a 33-year-old who needed one hour and a second chance to make weight Monday, you aren't alone.
"No, I ain't never heard of him before," Stevenson said during last week's media teleconference. "I watched like one round. I see everything I needed to see in that one round, and I see a lot of holding in his game, so I'm going to expose it.
"I noticed that he's nowhere near on my level."
Considering Caraballo has never fought outside of his native Puerto Rico and has yet to defeat a name opponent, the fight can be summed up as a showcase opportunity for Stevenson atop the five-fight card emanating from the MGM Grand Conference Center.
The flashy Stevenson, who is co-managed by Andre Ward and close friends with Terence Crawford,who seem poised to take over the sport. That potential has many people -- including Stevenson's promoter, Hall of Famer Bob Arum -- making comparisons to another Olympic medalist that Top Rank helped transform into a star.
"I look at him as the southpaw version of Floyd Mayweather," Arum said. "I think he will exceed the performances of Floyd. I just think he's a rare talent. He's a young man. He's growing in size. I think 130 pounds will be a brief stop in his career because he is growing into a welterweight and maybe a junior middleweight."
Stevenson is the same height as Mayweather at 5-foot-8, and certainly has the eye-catching speed. But Stevenson has a reach that is 4 inches shorter. He's also a southpaw. Oh yeah, one more thing: he doesn't want to be be compared to anyone, even Mayweather. He wants to be better.
"I don't like comparing myself to Floyd [Mayweather] -- I let everybody else do that," Stevenson recently told ESPN. "I want to out-do Floyd. At 13-0 right now, I think I'm better than where Floyd was when he was 13-0. Floyd is the greatest fighter of our era. I just want to be better.
"I'm going to be running the game when I'm 27, 28, where there's nothing you can do when you get in the ring with me. I'll be that superstar of the sport, that alpha dog. I understand the comparisons. If you watch Floyd's career as he got older and older, he became a real good defensive wizard. I'm real good at that stuff, too. I understand it, but I feel like I'm the first Shakur Stevenson."
Below you can have a look at the complete fight card as well as betting odds for the main event via William Hill Sportsbook.
Stevenson vs. Caraballo card, odds
Shakur Stevenson -6000
Felix Caraballo +1700
Jared Anderson N/A
Johnnie Langston N/A
Guido Vianello N/A
Quatavious Cash N/A
Calvin Metcalf N/A
Robeisy Ramirez N/A
Yeuri Andujar N/A
There's no reason to waste a ton of time here, even if Top Rank matchmakers deserve enough respect to assume there's something here in Caraballo that makes him a logical opponent who can test Stevenson in some way. The truth is, Caraballo doesn't have the speed, craft or experience to be in this fight, which is likely why it's being contested one weight class above without a title at stake.
Expect Stevenson to ease Top Rank's return to action after a long break with a dominant stoppage win. Speed thrills, and so does Stevenson.