“Training camp been good. This is my first 8-rounder, so I plan on making a statement...He ain’t never seen nobody on my level. I’m special; I’ve been special my whole career and to be able to beat me, you’re going to have to be on a whole different level. I don’t think none of these guys that I’m going to be fighting anytime soon is on a whole different level...I’m going to put on another amazing performance,” stated up-and-coming featherweight Shakur Stevenson, who talked about his upcoming return to the ring. Check it out!
PC: Back on the big screen this Friday night. How was this training camp?
SS: Training camp been good. This is my first 8-rounder, so I plan on making a statement.
PC: You have had some resistance already as a pro and because of that, you have been 6 rounds twice already. I’m sure that experience has helped you prepare for an 8-rounder.
SS: Yes, I have been 6 rounds twice and all of my fights were scheduled for 6. I’m prepared for this. I’m ready. I can’t wait to fight.
PC: Have you done anything differently in training mentally or physically to prepare for those two extra rounds or has this been your regular training camp?
SS: Honestly, I didn’t do too much different. I’ve been sparring 12 rounds in the gym straight since I was like 17 or 18 years old. I’m kind of prepared for 8 rounds. I feel like I’m not going to get tired. I feel like it’s all mental.
PC: He just stopped a guy who was 4-0 in September. Obviously you don’t plan on being his second consecutive 4-0 opponent who he takes out. What do you feel like you have to do against Juan Tapia to nullify any success he’s trying to build?
SS: He ain’t never been in the ring with anybody on my type of level. He probably stopped a basic 4-0 guy. I didn’t even know that, to be honest with you (laughing). He ain’t never seen nobody on my level. I’m special; I’ve been special my whole career and to be able to beat me, you’re going to have to be on a whole different level. I don’t think none of these guys that I’m going to be fighting anytime soon is on a whole different level. Don’t worry, I ain’t sleeping or nothing, but I’m on top of my game. I’m confident in my ability, and I feel like on February 16th, he’s going to have a rude awakening.
PC: Being as decorated as you were in the amateurs and coming in with the expectations that you have had, it’s not hard to find your first pro fights online or you could have just watched them live. Has it been tough to find fights on Tapia or were you able to get a glimpse at him?
SS: I watched some of his fights on YouTube. I know for a fact for him to even accept a fight with me, he watched some of the stuff that I do and probably seen some of my fights and feel like he can beat me. I don’t really care about it because it ain’t what it is on the inside what it looks like on the outside. It’s a whole different ball game once you get inside the ring with a fighter. I watched some of his stuff and I’m very confident for this fight.
PC: One of the things that’s been very impressive to me from your first 4 fights, and I don’t know if I expected different or what, but you have been a fast starter. Is that by design or do you just feel like you’ve been able to do what you want early on and just keep it going?
SS: Honestly, I think it’s from being in the amateurs. In the amateurs, you had 3 rounds and in them 3 rounds, you gotta start fast from 1, 2, and 3 and dominate all of them. I kind of think I picked that up from the amateurs, but as the rounds get more and more, I think I’m going to try to slow it down and take my time.
PC: ESPN has been a great platform for you and your career. It's gotta be a great feeling to have your career on display this early on.
SS: Yeah! Honestly, that’s a blessing. A lot of people get to know me now. When I go places, I get people come up to me and tell me that they saw me fight on ESPN or, “Aren’t you the kid that fought on ESPN?” I feel really blessed, but I’m trying to not let it get to my head and stay focused on the mission.
PC: It’s a double-edge sword because in one sense, you gotta keep everything in perspective and stay on the mission, but you get a lot of love on social media after your fights and that can’t be ignored.
SS: Yeah, I love it, honestly. I gotta like cut them off before my fights. I still be getting a lot of love the day before my fights. My phone be blowing up, so I really block everybody out. Like you said, it’s a double-edge sword for sure because there is good and bad to it. But I do actually like it after my fights when I get a lot of love on social media.
PC: You hear it in fighting and in acting or any genre of work, this guy has the look. You have been associated with having the look of a superstar. Do you pay attention to things like that?
SS: I think about it. I gotta work on my patience. I just feel like I want it to happen soon. I want to be fighting for a world title soon, but I gotta work on my patience and handle what’s in front of me now. I think about it a lot though.
PC: Do you feel pressure to impress and maybe that’s why you’ve been trying to gun for the knockout too soon or press the action when you don’t have to really press?
SS: Honestly, my whole life, I feel like I’ve had pressure, so I ain’t really tripping off the pressure part, but I do gotta stop letting certain reporters say stuff and let it get to my head. Sometimes…like in my last fight, they tried to say that I wasn’t aggressive enough and I fought more so for them. I went in there and just let my hands go and just tried to beat on the guy. It worked good, but that’s not who I want to be in the future. I don’t want to be the guy that lets people outside of the ring influence me or get to me and change the way I’m fighting. I feel like I could impress either way, so I can’t allow them to get to my head in the future, so I’m going to work on that.
PC: You’re on social media and whatever you don’t see on social media, I’m sure you have someone showing you all the time what people are saying or what reporters are saying about you, so how do you avoid it or ignore it?
SS: That’s it, I just gotta ignore it. I just have to fight my fight and focus on what I have to do in the ring. I can’t really focus on what other people are saying because I’m going to see it either way. If I turn my phone off and turn it back on after my fight, I’m still going to see it. I just gotta learn how to ignore it and keep fighting my fight because they do the same thing with Terence Crawford, Andre Ward, and Floyd Mayweather; saying Floyd wasn’t aggressive. They said all of the same stuff about Floyd, so I can’t let it get to me. I gotta be mature enough to block it out and focus on what I gotta do.
PC: What has this journey been like through your first four fights? Is it kind of what you expected, more than you expected, or less?
SS: It’s been a little bit more than what I expected. I didn’t expect to be on ESPN this soon and have all of these people following me. It’s been good so far, but I just gotta stay focused.
PC: I know you’re practicing patience and not rushing anything, but when you look at where guys in the 126-pound division are at in their careers, it seems like your timing will be perfect to be the new face of the division by the time you’re up.
SS: I ain’t looking at it like that. I look at Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares and all of those guys and honestly, I want to fight all of those guys once I get there. But if it don’t happen, I know there are going to be more champions to come make their name and then I can just take their belts too. I ain’t looking at it like my timing is good or anything. I feel like either way, later on down the line, it’s going to be some champions that everybody like and I’m going to be able to dethrone them.
PC: How many times would you like to fight this year and what’s the short-term goals for the year?
SS: I want “Prospect of the Year”. I saw I didn’t get it this year. But I don’t even think last year was the year I was supposed to get it. I think this is the year, so I want “Prospect of the Year” and I want to fight as much as possible. They got two fights lined up for me already, so I’m excited.
PC: Thanks for your time as always. Good luck on Friday night and we will catch up afterwards for sure. Is there anything else you want to add?
SS: I appreciate that. Tune-in on Friday night on ESPN and I’m going to put on another amazing performance!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]