Shakur Stevenson: ‘I’m Cut from a Different Cloth’

Shakur Stevenson is brash and cocky, but has delivered on his promises so far. Ahead of his next bout, he talks to Phil Rogers about that confidence, his next opponent and his fight to make 130 pounds.

CONFIDENTIALITY is a precious commodity. Most of us improvise and splurge through our lives, shaking off the familiar enemy of self-doubt, but always aware of its corrosive effects. How do some people seem to be equipped with a life plan?

“I just feel like I’m the best in boxing,” declares undefeated (now former) super featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson, a young man who has been proclaiming his greatness since he first laced up a pair of gloves. “I’ve been saying that for a while and I still stand by it.”

On Friday night (September 23), Stevenson will continue to stake his claim as the best fighter in the sport. The 25-year-old American’s impressive recent form has seen him stop Jamel Herring in 10 rounds and dominate Oscar Valdez to cement his status as the best in the division. Conceicao himself could be forgiven for beating Valdez as well, having lost a controversial decision to the Mexican in September 2021. It was this performance that got Stevenson interested in fighting.

“He deserved a shot after the Valdez fight. A lot of people thought he won. I have a different belief on that. I feel like he left it too close. But at the end of the day, he earned his shot and I feel like he deserves it. I’m one those fighters I don’t mind fighting the best. I feel like fighting the best always brings out the best in me,” he says.

“Expect me to put in a masterful performance and dominate and beat the hell out of Robson Conceicao. I’m going there to beat him, so hopefully he’ll be ready, but I’m going to kick his ass.

The fight was billed as Stevenson’s homecoming to New Jersey, where Top Rank prospects Keyshawn Davis and Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington eagerly shared the stage to promote their bouts at the Prudential Center in Newark.

To watch Stevenson that day was to bask in the recognition he has longed for. He looked completely at home on stage with his grandfather and coach, Wali Moses, praising Bob Arum’s young star boys who are trying to replicate his success and signing autographs for local kids afterwards. Indeed, it was reminiscent of Stevenson’s own time as Terence Crawford’s backer, a time he credits as an invaluable experience to gain knowledge and advice from one of the sport’s greatest.

“I’m ready to embrace this role. Just show love to other fighters and other fighters younger than me. I’ve been grinding my whole life for this and it’s finally paying off. It was a really fun experience back home. Being in front of my family and friends and just enjoying the environment . It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to fight in front of them on September 23rd.”

Stevenson had previously been upset with certain sections of the boxing media, outing him when he announced Teofimo Lopez, Devin Haney, Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis as the new “four kings” of modern boxing. Stevenson claimed at the time that he was “cut from a different cloth” compared to his peers, and to back it up, he has barely lost a round en route to becoming the best in the 130lb weight class. He believes this combination of self-belief and obsessive competition will propel his career upward.

“I’m just one of those people. I’m very competitive. I love to compete in everything and I believe in myself 100 percent. It was just something I was born with. I was born with a love for boxing. I think that love and passion for boxing will keep me going all the time forward. I think that’s where it all comes from. Just my love for the sport. I enjoy boxing, I enjoy being in the ring, sparring, fighting and everything about boxing.

Away from boxing, Stevenson’s life has taken on additional responsibility. He proposed to his girlfriend Michelle Ragston (a.k.a. Young Lyric) right after his fight with Valdez and announced the birth of their baby daughter in December. He is aware of the impact these life events had on him.

“It’s shaped me really well. I feel like I’m a role model and a dad, it’s a different world. At the end of the day, you have to be just as smart outside the ring as you are inside the ring. I just flow with life like that.”

There has been speculation as to how long Stevenson will stay at 130 pounds now, especially as he is tempted by big money fights at lightweight. The American is dismissive of Britain’s Joe Cordina, the current IBF super-featherweight belt holder, but has been open to the prospect of traveling to the UK to take him on. Ultimately, however, his plans will be determined by how comfortable he feels leading up to Friday night. (Having weighed in at 131.6 pounds in Friday’s bout against Conceicao and vacating his super featherweight titles as a result, we now know.)

“Him [Cordina] only won one fight! I think he beat someone [Kenichi Ogawa] that he beat Tevin Farmer, but Tevin Farmer really beat him. So he only won one fight. We’ll see. If I’m still at this weight, I’ll kick his ass too. It’s just about losing weight. Depending on how difficult the weight cut for this fight is, we’ll find out later.

As for the upcoming superfight with top-ranked Vassili Lomachenko, Stevenson remains as unashamed as ever, looking to climb the pound-for-pound rankings and put his name at the top of the sport.

“If they want it [Lomachenko] then I’m down for it. I’m down to no one. Who wants a smoke, I’m with it. I don’t mind it. Someone! Anyone can have it!”