By: Sean Crose
He may have missed weight his last fight, but now Shakur Stevenson has moved up from super featherweight to lightweight in order to square off against Shuichiro Yoshino this Saturday night in Stevenson’s hometown of Newark, New Jersey. Although no one ever knows how a fight is going to turn out (some of us still remember watching Mike Tyson lose to Buster Douglas live), the undefeated Stevenson is expected to win handily this weekend. After that? Provided Stevenson emerges victorious against Yoshino he will officially be a force in one of the hottest divisions in the entirety of boxing.
The 25 year old Stevenson should just be entering his prime. The question now is how he will fair in a division of bigger opponents? Even the greatest fighters, after all, have tried to cross a bridge too far. Stevenson, however, has shown remarkable ability in the course of his undefeated, 19-0 career. Aside from receiving amateur accolades, Steven has already earned world titles in numerous weight divisions. Still, the man is looking for a fresh start at lightweight, a realm he wishes to conquer, much as he has conquered the featherweight and super featherweight divisions.
“It’s like a restart,” the fighter told the New York Post of his move to lightweight. “It’s weird, because when you’re a champion they respect you at a whole different level. When I was champion down there, I was on pound-for-pound and all this stuff. Lately, you don’t hear nobody say pound-for-pound when it comes to my name, just because I don’t have the belts anymore and I moved up to a new division.”
Stevenson admits that it bothers him that he is no longer seen as being one of the best in the business. “I look at it,” he said, “I ain’t too mad about it, I really don’t care. Actually, nah, I’m lying. I do care. I care, and since I do care, I’ve got to wake them up. I gotta make them remember who I am. Now at 135, I’ve got to open their eyes up a little bit more and make sure they put some real respect on my name.” With names like Vasyl Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney possibly on the horizon, Stevenson may well have to earn that respect the hard way.
One thing is Stevenson is quite happy about is fighting in his hometown this weekend. “I think the most Newark thing about me is that I represent my city the way that I do,” Stevenson said. ”If you’re from Newark, you’re going to represent Newark. … I put my city on my back. I represent us no matter wherever I go.”
Stevenson-Yoshino will be broadcast live from the Prudential Center on ESPN starting at 10 PM eastern time on Saturday night.
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