By Percy Crawford
Shakur Stevenson might be young, but he has demonstrated all the makings of a great champion at the age of 21. The Newark, NJ native has amazed audiences with his youthful looks, infectious smile and beast-like aggression in the ring. After a recent KO, victory we caught up with the young lion to discuss his past present and future. Check out everything Stevenson had to say about his recent knockout win, potential April return date and his relationship with pound-for-pound great Terence "Bud" Crawford!
AllHipHop.com: Congratulations on your 4th round TKO win over Jessie Rosales on Friday night. How do you feel about your performance?
Shakur Stevenson: Honestly, I felt great. There are some things I could work on, but I felt great. I feel like that was my favorite performance.
AllHipHop.com: You have been in search of that complete performance since turning pro, do you feel like that was your most complete performance?
Shakur Stevenson: I kind of feel like that was my best performance as a pro. Going into that fight, I kept saying that I wanted to get more rounds in and show my skills a lot more. I really got to do that and that’s exactly what I wanted to do.
AllHipHop.com: It appeared that you really wanted to focus on mixing it up fighting both on the inside and outside as opposed to what we had grown accustomed to seeing from you which is using your range. Was the game plan heading into this fight to fight on the outside and be smart while showing you can bang on the inside as well?
Shakur Stevenson: Yeah, that was really my game plan and that’s why I say I wanted to show my skills. If you watch the first two rounds, I really stayed on the outside and I boxed. Then, in the next two rounds I pressed the action and I started to bully him and banging on him on the inside. I wanted to show him that I could get rough also. That was really my game plan going into the fight.
AllHipHop.com: Did you have any expectations of Rosales going into the fight or did you not watch a whole lot of him beforehand, so you didn’t know what to expect?
Shakur Stevenson: Yeah, I had expectations because I felt like his right side was weak. I felt he was weak on his right side. I kind of knew my straight left would be there all day. I really wanted to focus on my left to the body, but as the fight went on, I started seeing the straight left to the head would work too.
AllHipHop.com: The straight left hand is what eventually got him out of there. You actually doubled up on it. It almost appeared like him winging wild shots pissed you off and you turned up the heat and got him out of there.
Shakur Stevenson: Nah, he didn’t piss me off. He kind of seemed like he had a little bit of power, but as the fight went on his power started to wear down. His punches weren’t coming as hard as they were in the first few rounds. I kind of seen that I could take his punches and just stand there basically.
AllHipHop.com: You have gradually been increasing the opposition. Rosales was a 24-fight veteran. Where do you go from here?
Shakur Stevenson: I ain’t gonna lie, I keep saying, Josh Warrington. He just beat Carl Frampton and I feel like that could be my test to see if I’m ready for a world-title shot. I feel like I can beat Carl Frampton to be honest with you. So yeah, I would like to test myself against someone like Carl Frampton. He could be my test.
AllHipHop.com: Andre Ward (manager) is always preaching patience to you and you seem like you are ready to test the world-title waters. Is the key to capturing a world-title patience and trusting your team?
Shakur Stevenson: He is right when he says I have to be patient. I kind of feel like I’m a lot better than a lot of people… I’m gonna say it honestly. I feel like I’m a lot better than a lot of prospects. I feel like I’m ahead of them too. You could throw me in there with world-champions right now and I feel I could beat them right now. That’s just my opinion, but they are right, I should stay patient. I just know what I’m ready for.
AllHipHop.com: Is the key to remaining patient just staying busy? It seems like Top Rank has kept the fight dates rolling for you and I’m sure remaining active helps with not getting impatient and wanting the champions right now.
Shakur Stevenson: Yeah, but in about 4-fights I feel like they can throw me in for that world-title. I’m 10-0 right now, so around my 14th fight, you could throw me in there for a world-title and I will fight in England.
AllHipHop.com: A couple of fights back, you told me that you felt you still had some amateurish habits that you needed to break. Now that you are ten fights into your pro career, do you feel like you have eliminated those habits?
Shakur Stevenson: Yeah, I think that this fight solidified that. Even if you listen to the commentators, they were saying that, I’m a pro now and that I fight like a pro. I feel like a pro. I felt a lot more like a pro in this fight. I was able to sit down on my punches, stay in the pocket and see everything. I felt like a pro.
AllHipHop.com: You’re also stopping guys now. You have stopped 4 of your last 5 opponents. Is that a matter of you getting stronger or you sitting down on your shots more and getting away from the points system fighting style that the amateurs require?
Shakur Stevenson: I feel like it’s both. I am getting stronger but I’m also sitting down on my work more. I also feel like, I’m getting bigger. I’m getting a lot bigger now. I’m not the same fighter I was 3 to 4 fights ago. I’m a lot bigger now. I’m big for the 126-pound weight division. I stood next to Carl Frampton before. I feel like I’m a lot bigger than him.
AllHipHop.com: How much time will you take away from the gym and when can we expect to see you back inside of the ring?
Shakur Stevenson: I’m having a hard time with this one right here because it’s hard for me to stay out of the gym. I’m in the gym right now watching, but I want to train. So, it’s kind of hard. It’s tough for me to stay out of the gym. I think I’m going to fight on April 20th on the Terence Crawford card. In probably 2 or 3 days I will be back training because I know I’m not going to be able to sit around and do nothing.
AllHipHop.com: You have developed a relationship with, Terence Crawford. How has it benefitted you being around a consummate pro and just being able to see how he goes about his business and pick his brain?
Shakur Stevenson: If you watched my last fight, I kind of feel like he’s the reason I looked the way I did. I’m not going to say he’s the reason, but he played a part in it. Being able to see him… I was in training camp with him and I was able to pick up on things that he does and I kind of emulated it in my style in my own type of way. I kind of feel like it’s helped me a lot being around him and being in training camp with him; seeing the way he eats and how serious he takes boxing. A lot of fighters don’t take boxing as serious as Terence does. He don’t drink, he don’t smoke, he may party, but he’s just there. He’s not really in that world like that. He doesn’t put anything in his body that shouldn’t be in there. He is a true world-champion. I really learned a lot from being around him.
AllHipHop.com: In what ways do you feel like you have matured the most as a fighter in your 10-pro fights and do you feel it has been more inside or outside of the ring?
Shakur Stevenson: I have to say a combination of both. I feel like I am a lot smarter outside of the ring. I feel like I don’t make the same mistakes. I’m not going to keep doing the same things over and over. In the ring, I have been around more pros. Being around Terence, I picked up on the stuff that he do. That helped me a lot.
AllHipHop.com: You caught a lot of criticism when you signed with Top Rank. Many thought you would sign with Mayweather Promotions or another promoter. It seems like now; Top Rank was the right move for you. I’m sure you are happy with your decision to sign with Top Rank even though at the time, it wasn’t the most popular decision from a spectator’s viewpoint.
Shakur Stevenson: I feel like that was the best decision for me. I have always felt that that was the best move for me. I feel like I wouldn’t be where I’m at if I was signed to any other promotional company. I wouldn’t be fighting on TV, I wouldn’t be as known as I am right now. I feel like it would have taken a little bit more time for me to get my name out there and honestly, I don’t even know if I would be 10-fights into my career with any other promotional company. I feel like they are moving me right and letting me fight a lot. I feel like that was the best move, but I definitely heard all the talk when I first made this decision. I wasn’t tripping. It is what it is.
AllHipHop.com: Hey man, great performance, it’s always a pleasure speaking to you and definitely keep me in the loop when you get an opponent for your April date. Is there anything else that you would like to add before I let you go?
Shakur Stevenson: Everything good, tell all the fans to tune-in on April 20th! I’m on a mission to show the world that I can be one of the best ever!