Published on July 26th, 2019 | by Percy Crawford


One-On-One With Rising Boxing Star, Shakur Stevenson!

Rising boxing star, Shakur Stevenson is now 12-0 with 7 knockouts following his 3rd round knockout win over, Alberto Guevara earlier this month.

Shakur Stevenson has a smile that brightens up a room. He still wears the innocence of a 22-year old on his face, that is until the bell rings. Once he has an opponent positioned across the ring from him, Stevenson lives up to his moniker, “Fearless.” The Newark, New Jersey native, who represented the United States in the 2016 Olympics returned from Brazil with a Silver Medal in the bantamweight division. A little less than a year later, Stevenson would turn pro and the rest, as they say is history. The Top Rank promotions prodigy is now undefeated and knocking at the door of a title shot in the 126-pound division (featherweight). The left-handed sharp-shooter recently become the mandatory challenger for, Oscar Valdez’s, WBO world-title. There will be a purse-bid held on August 2nd! Stevenson is managed by hip-hop mogul, J Prince, boxing great, Andre Ward and longtime boxing manager, Antonio Leonard.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with, Shakur. He talks about his recent win, potential, Valdez fight and pays homage to the late great, Pernell Whitaker!

Congratulations on the win.

Shakur Stevenson: Thank you. I appreciate that.

You definitely did what you were supposed to do. Alberto Guevara was about your fourth opponent. I heard a little bit of frustration setting in with you.

Shakur Stevenson: Yeah for sure. I was trying to get some good fighters in the ring. I was trying to fight, Rafael Rivera who is fighting, Jessie Magdalena right now. It seemed like nobody really wanted to take the fight, so I was left with that type of opposition. I’m glad I went in there and did what I had to do.

I think your approach showed the growth. Hometown fights in general are stressful, add the 4 to 5 opponent changes, for some young fighters, that’s an upset waiting to happen.

Shakur Stevenson: Most definitely. Like you said, hometown fights… there are a lot of nerves and a lot of people get more nervous than usual. When I went out there, I just kept telling myself it’s sparring and just treat it like sparring. I was able to handle it well and I’m proud of my performance.

It was a short fight but assess your performance for me.

Shakur Stevenson: I thought it was a great performance. I thought I did what I was supposed to do. I feel like I was attacking the body real good and about round three, I was just about to line him up and he didn’t really give me too much that I could get at. I thought it was a good performance though.

Was there any point during the matchmaking process that you felt you may lose the date because they couldn’t find anyone to accept the fight?

Shakur Stevenson: At the end once the last opponent dropped out, they said that, Guevara was the last one. They were going to cancel the show if he didn’t take the fight.

In terms of what you were doing in the gym, how did you stay mentally focused and prepare as if all of this opponent changes weren’t happening?

Shakur Stevenson: We were sparring with different style. Certain days we would spar a southpaw and certain days we would spar other guys. One day we would be sparring a pressure fighter and the next day we would be sparring a boxer. So, we were sparring different styles just in case. We knew about 3 to 4 fighters had already pulled out, so by that time we wanted to get every look that we could see.

At this stage in your career, is it important that you just be at your best? Because if you’re at your best it doesn’t matter who is across the ring from you?

Shakur Stevenson: Most definitely! When I’m at my best, I feel like even the top 126-pounders can’t give me any trouble. Sooner or later everybody is going to see; probably real soon. Probably sooner than later they are going to see.

I remember speaking to, Errol Spence Jr. during the stage in his career where it was hard to find opponents for him and he said, as long as he kept winning, they wouldn’t be able to avoid him much longer. Is that the approach you are taking as well?

Shakur Stevenson: That’s the same mentality I have. The WBO just made me the mandatory for their title. They can’t really avoid that, so it’s about that time.

Yeah, it’s funny because as soon as you got mandated, Oscar Valdez’s team pretty much said, he struggles to make 126, so if it’s not some sort of unification or, Carl Frampton, he will probably move up.

Shakur Stevenson: I think about stuff like that. Carl Frampton doesn’t even have a belt and he’s not ranked in the top three by any of the sanctioning bodies. He said he will fight him, but he won’t fight me. I kind of see where they going. I understand, but I really don’t understand. I feel like I’m a very dangerous fight for him and he understands that. he would rather fight a, Carl Frampton than to fight a, Shakur Stevenson.

Yeah, I thought it was kind of strange to say the 126-pound division is getting tough to make, but for these names he will attempt to make it.

Shakur Stevenson: And the guys that he named are two of the top guys in the division, so you will make the weight for two of the top guys, but not for a young, up and coming hungry fighter. I don’t understand it at all.

We spoke in Dallas when, Errol Spence fought, Carlos Ocampos. You were excited seeing the atmosphere and the reaction that Dallas gave, Spence. You also said you couldn’t wait to fight in, Jersey. Was it everything you expected it to be?

Shakur Stevenson: Yeah, it definitely was everything I thought it would be. I feel like, now that we got the first one out of the way, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger. My city supports me a lot and I’m glad they support me the way that they do. I feel like my homecoming fight was a very special fight to me.

You spoke during the build-up to the fight about maturing and showing growth out of the ring. How has your maturity outside of the ring helped you inside of the ring?

Shakur Stevenson: Me maturing outside the ring… I’m still working on it and I got a ways to go, but I have matured a lot. I definitely feel like it is helping me in my fight game. When I’m in the ring, I have more patience. I feel like my patience is good. Even in my last fight, I didn’t go in there rushing nothing. I allowed everything to happen the way it was supposed to happen. I didn’t try to do anything extra that was out of my character. I was just being myself. Those are the types of performances that I like.

I think it even showed with all the opponent changes. You didn’t really go off the deep end or anything like that. You just kept preparing.

Shakur Stevenson: Yeah! You can see it in my fight before my last one against, Christopher Diaz. A lot of people felt like I was going to lose, and I just went in there and did what I had to do.

Would you like to face, Valdez before the year is over if that fight can be made or first quarter of next year?

Shakur Stevenson: We’re waiting to see what, Valdez says. I guess when they do the lil purse big or whatever, we are waiting to see what he says. If he says, yes, to the fight, hopefully we can get that done by the end of the year. But if he says, no, we will have to figure out who is next. August 2nd or 3rd, I’ll probably know more of when I will be fighting.

We recently lost two fighters, Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan to injuries sustained during their fights. I just wanted to give you the opportunity to speak on the dangers of being a fighter.

Shakur Stevenson: I feel like every time we step in the ring, we put our lives on the line and that’s why I watched fighters like, “Sweetpea” [Pernell Whitaker] and Floyd. They understand the art of boxing. What my granddad told me as a kid is, hit and not get hit. My granddad makes sure that that’s my main focus. So, for the young kids coming up, I would tell them to do the same thing. The pros are very different from the amateurs with those 8 oz. gloves. It’s a totally different story now. I ain’t in there trying to take any punishment. Everything that happened, that was sad. I don’t like seeing stuff like that. It makes me go to the gym and try to perfect my craft even more.

You mentioned, Pernell Whitaker. We lost him as well from a tragic accident, as a southpaw, I’m sure he is someone you paid close attention to coming up.

Shakur Stevenson: Most definitely! I feel like, Pernell is probably one of the main fighters I watch nowadays because he was another southpaw and we have the same mentality. We go in there, we are very competitive, we are slick, good defense, good offense and I feel like, Pernell was really one of the greatest fighters I ever seen. I feel like he was one of the greatest that I ever seen and that I ever watched.

It’s been a pleasure seeing your growth both in and out of the ring and I wish you continued success. Is there anything else you would like to add before I let you go?

Shakur Stevenson: Everybody follow me on Twitter and Instagram @ShakurStevenson. Keep watching, I will be one of the best ever one day.




About the Author

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑