LAS VEGAS -- Top Rank on Friday formally unveiled most of its loaded fall schedule of main events, which includes four consecutive weeks of world title bouts on ESPN or ESPN+.
"This is a tremendous lineup of fights that Top Rank is bringing to ESPN and ESPN+ in the fall," Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said. "You have young superstars and established champions in the toughest fights of their careers. It doesn't get better than that. When it's all said and done, new superstars are going to emerge."
All eight fighters were in attendance at a news conference at the MGM Grand's KA Theater for the announcement on the eve of the ESPN+ card headlined by lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury against Otto Wallin on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
The stretch kicks off with the previously announced light heavyweight title unification bout between former Olympians Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-0, 14 KOs), 32, a Ukraine native fighting out of Oxnard, California, and Russia's Artur Beterbiev (14-0, 14 KOs), 34, who fights out of Montreal. They will meet on Oct. 18 (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10 p.m. ET) at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
The rest of the schedule:
Stevenson vs. Gonzalez
Featherweights Shakur Stevenson and Joet Gonzalez will square off for a vacant world title on Oct. 26 (ESPN+, 10 p.m.) at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada.
Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), 22, of Newark, New Jersey, and Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs), 25, of Los Angeles, will vie for the title belt that Oscar Valdez recently vacated because he is moving up to the junior lightweight division. One storyline for the fight: Stevenson is dating Gonzalez's sister.
"I have been working for this moment my entire life, and no one is going to stop me from becoming a world champion," Stevenson said. "I had some of my biggest amateur moments in Reno, and I can't wait to win my first world title there. This is my time to show the world that I am the best young fighter in boxing. The Shakur Stevenson era will officially begin on Oct. 26."
While Stevenson claimed a 2016 Olympic silver medal and turned pro with great fanfare, Gonzalez's rise has been a bit more under the radar over his seven-year career, but he is also eager for his biggest fight.
"It's about time I got my world title shot," Gonzalez said. "I've been asking for this opportunity for a long time. Thanks to my promoter [Golden Boy] and manager [Frank Espinoza], it is finally here. Shakur Stevenson has done a lot of talking. But I'll do my talking in the ring with my fists."
Stevenson and Gonzalez are coming off recent knockout victories on July 13 on cards on opposite sides of the country. Gonzalez knocked out Manuel Avila in the sixth round in Carson, California, and Stevenson drilled Alberto Guevara in the third round of a Newark homecoming fight.
Berchelt vs. Sosa
Junior lightweight world titlist Miguel Berchelt will make his sixth defense when he meets former secondary titlist Jason Sosa on Nov. 2 (ESPN and ESPN Deportes, 10:30 p.m. ET) at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs), 27, of Mexico, is the 130-pound division's longest-reigning active titleholder, having won his belt by 11th-round knockout of Francisco Vargas in January 2017. Berchelt is coming off a sixth-round stoppage of Vargas in their rematch on May 11.
"On Nov. 2, there will be another classic war between a Mexican and a Puerto Rican warrior," said Berchelt, who has won 15 fights in a row. "I will prove once again that I am the best and most spectacular [junior lightweight] in the world. This title ain't going anywhere."
Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs), 31, of Camden, New Jersey, set himself up for the title shot with a very impressive and dominating seventh-round knockout of Haskell Lydell Rhodes on Aug. 10 in Philadelphia.
"I can't express how happy and grateful I am to [co-promoters] Top Rank and Russell Peltz for once again working together to give me another shot at becoming world champion," Sosa said. "I am training harder than ever. I want this so bad, and I am not going to let anything stop what God has planned for me. We are incredibly focused knowing the importance of this fight."
In 2017, Sosa vacated his belt to facilitate a match for his biggest purse and exposure in a challenge of then-titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, but he suffered a ninth-round stoppage loss followed by a heavily disputed majority decision loss to Yuriorkis Gamboa in November 2017. Since then, Sosa has won three fights in a row and has been rewarded with the title shot against Berchelt.
"Berchelt is a strong opponent, and we are not taking his talents lightly," Sosa said. "We both throw a lot of punches, so expect an action-packed fight that will be the next chapter in the Mexico versus Puerto Rico rivalry. It's a rivalry that's been ongoing for years, and I plan on making my island very proud. On Nov. 2, I plan on becoming a two-time world champion."
Herring vs. Roach
Junior lightweight world titlist Jamel Herring will make his first defense against mandatory challenger Lamont Roach Jr. on Nov. 9 (ESPN+, 10 p.m. ET) at Fresno, California's Chukchansi Park, a baseball stadium that is home to the Fresno Grizzlies, the Washington Nationals' Triple-A affiliate.
Herring (20-2, 10 KOs), 33, a Marine veteran from Coram, New York, won his belt by decision from Masayuki Ito on May 25 -- Memorial Day weekend. Now the 2012 U.S. Olympian is set to defend the title on Veterans Day weekend. When Herring fought at the Save Mart Center in Fresno last September, more than 1,000 active, retired and aspiring service members turned out to cheer him on.
"I'm glad to be back in Fresno," said Herring, who served two tours of duty in Iraq. "I had a huge crowd supporting me last time I fought in the area. I know a victory here will lead to bigger and better things.
"Our camps have gone back and forth, and I'm just ready to get to work. I have a great team, and [welterweight world titlist] Terence Crawford will also be in camp to make sure I'm at my best. Overall, the night means much more than trash-talking, since it's the weekend of both Veterans Day and the Marine Corps' birthday."
Roach Jr. (19-0-1, 7 KOs), 23, of Washington, D.C., has won three fights in a row since a very controversial draw with Orlando Cruz in April 2018 that most observers thought Roach clearly won.
"I know Jamel very well and he knows me," Roach said. "I'm super excited, and I've been waiting for this moment my entire life. This victory will be only the beginning of my legacy. I'm here for a reason, and I can't wait to show the world why. I will be the WBO junior lightweight world champion on Nov. 9."
Besides the four-week stretch announced on Friday, Top Rank will also have at least two more cards before the end of the year.
There is an ESPN+ show in the works for Nov. 30 that likely will feature Valdez's junior lightweight debut at a site to be determined. There is also a Dec. 14 ESPN card at Madison Square Garden in New York that is expected to be headlined by Crawford in a defense of his welterweight title against mandatory challenger Egidijus Kavaliauskas, with a co-feature of lightweight world titlist Richard Commey in a much-anticipated defense against Teofimo Lopez Jr., the mandatory challenger and 2018 ESPN prospect of the year.