Just 20 years old, Shakur is a sensational young prospect at 126 pounds. One of the United States’ top amateur boxers in recent years, he had a tremendous career at the elite international level that peaked with the silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, Brazil.
He is managed as a professional by his hero, Andre Ward, along with James Prince and Josh Dubin, and trained by his grandfather, Wali Moses, and Kay Koroma.
Shakur is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and Antonio Leonard Productions.
He fought four times in his first eight months as a pro.
Shakur made his pro debut on April 22 in Carson, California, and won by sixth-round technical decision against Edgar Brito. He was back in the ring a month later – on May 20, he won by first-round TKO against Carlos Suarez. On August 19 in Omaha, Nebraska, Shakur won a six-round unanimous decision against David Paz.
In his last fight on December 9 in New York, he won by second-round TKO against Oscar Mendoza. The bout was one of the co-features with the Vasily Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux main event.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported from ringside [excerpts]: Featherweight Shakur Stevenson blew out Oscar Mendoza, stopping him in the second round of a scheduled six-rounder.
Stevenson dominated from the outset. He landed right jabs from his southpaw stance and body shots nearly at will against Mendoza, who landed virtually nothing.
Stevenson, who spent much of his training camp sparring with Lomachenko, opened the second round with a sustained assault of combinations that had Mendoza covering up as he took a pounding. He was getting battered, and [the] referee had finally seen enough, stepped in and stopped the fight at 1 minute, 38 seconds. [End Rafael item]
In his post-fight interview, Shakur said, “Everything was working for me tonight. Everything I threw was landing. Sparring with Lomachenko really helped a lot. He’s one of the best fighters out there, and I learned a lot from working with him. You still haven’t seen the best of me. Just wait and watch.”
In earlier interviews, Shakur said, “I’ve been training in Alexandria, Virginia, since I was 17. I train at the Alexandria Boxing Club here, but Newark is my home town – that’s where I was born and raised. That’s my city.
“My style – I would say I’m a thinker and a performer. I’m a lot more of a boxer.
“I’ve been to a few training camps with pros. I was in Andre Ward’s training camp when he fought Sergey Kovalev. I was in Terence Crawford’s training camp, helping him spar, when he fought Viktor Postol – I did four four-minute rounds with Terence. If you listen to Terence after that fight, he shouts out, ‘Good luck to the Olympic team that was helping me in sparring – Shakur and everybody on the Olympic team.’ I also sparred with Gary Russell Jr.
“I met Andre Ward when I was younger. I think it was in May or June, 2015. He had a kid that was from our gym in Alexandria, Antoine Douglas, and I went down there. I was hanging out and watching every time he sparred and trained, but I was training there also. That was my first time meeting ‘Dre.”
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Shakur said, “I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. My mother’s got nine kids – there’s seven boys and two girls. I’m the only boxer in my family. My little brother used to box before, but he had a fight where he thought he got robbed and after he got robbed, he quit.
“I was five years old when I first started boxing. My grandfather, Wali Moses, he was a boxing coach. He used to play baseball, also. One day, he took me to a baseball game and some of his fighters came and he introduced me to them. The next day, I asked him if he would take me to the boxing gym. I felt like it was cool that they were boxers. So, he took me to the gym and the first time I went there, I just fell in love with boxing. I had my first fight when I was eight.
“I know I had around 140-something amateur fights. I had 12 losses, maybe 13.
“I’m naturally right-handed. When I started boxing, I was just more comfortable in the left-handed stance.”…
From nj.com [Aug. 14, 2016 – excerpts]: 13 things to know about the Olympic boxer from Newark
Newark’s finest – Shakur Stevenson was born and raised in Newark and still loves his home city.
- He’s named for the rapper – Stevenson was born nine months after rap star Tupac Shakur was gunned down. His mother, Malikah Stevenson, considered the musician her “poet” and always knew she would name a boy after him.
- He’s started young – Stevenson started boxing when he was just 5 under the tutelage of his grandfather, Wali Moses, who ran a boxing gym in the city. Soon after, he gave up other sports to focus on boxing full time, winning his first fight we he was 8.
- He has a BIG family – Shakur is the oldest of NINE siblings, ranging from 19 to 5. This is a tight-knit crew, too: During his recent stop at the Boys & Girls Club in Newark for a boxing clinic, all eight were running round, and one of his sisters asked a question.
- He lived on Ali Blvd – That’s right, Stevenson and his family lived for a time on Muhammad Ali Blvd in Newark.
- He’s unbeaten internationally – Stevenson is 23-0 on the international level as a junior fighter. He’ll be stepping up in class at the Olympics, but people in his corner point out: He has met every challenge he’s faced as a boxer so far. [note: his first international loss was in the Olympic Games finals]
- He’s faced adversity – While he’s never lost overseas, it appeared in 2015 that he had met his match at home. He lost twice to American rival Ruben Villa, a boxer he would have to master to get to Rio. But he exacted his revenge twice at the U.S. boxing trials in December, and a few months later, punched his ticket to the Olympics.
- He has a Powerade deal – Powerade picked Stevenson as one of just three athletes for its Olympic advertising campaign. He is featured in a TV commercial with the kicker, “Just a kid from Newark.” (Oh, and you can get a T-shirt with that slogan, too.)
- His role model is Andre Ward – Andre Ward is that most recent U.S. male boxer to win a gold medal, doing so at the 2004 Athens Games. Stevenson studied Ward and appreciated both his style in the ring and his approach outside of it.
- Ward has become a mentor – Andre Ward has taken Stevenson under his wing, even giving him a pep talk before the Olympic trials. “I think he’s ahead of his time a little bit,” Ward said. “He understands his range. He understands who he is as a fighter. Shakur wants to fight in the biggest moments. I look at that and I’m impressed.”
- He inspired his dad – Shahid Guyton said it was watching his son’s commitment to boxing that helped motivate him to “live out my dream” after some “trials and tribulations with the streets.” He earned his GED, got a job in behavioral health technology and getting a degree at a community college. “I told him, ‘You don’t know what kind of inspiration you are to me.'”
- He has a mean jab – “I feel like I could win a fight just with my jab,” Stevenson said earlier this year. Watching him fight, it’s easy to see that his speed and reflexes help make that punch so lethal.
- He’ll be an underdog in Rio – Michael Conlan of Northern Ireland is the reigning world champion in the bantamweight and favored to win the gold based on his international experience. He’ll also face stiff competition from Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba.
- He’s always smiling – Stevenson smiles so much that sometimes, his USA Boxing handler has to tell him during photo shoots, “Use your mean face!” It doesn’t last for long. Watch clips of his fights, and Stevenson is even smiling in the ring.