“Most likely it’s probably early 2020, but if it’s up to me, I’ll take one of them world champions the end of this year. They have two world champions who I can definitely get in the ring with and it ain’t going to be no Top Rank-Al Haymon problems. Josh Warrington and I have a stablemate, Oscar Valdez, and he has a world title. Them fights can be made easy,” stated featherweight sensation Shakur Stevenson, who talked about his impressive win over Christopher Diaz, his future plans, and much more. Check it out!
PC: Congratulations on the win over Christopher Diaz. That was supposed to be a major step up fight for you, yet you made it look easy. How were you able to do so?
SS: I mean, I don’t know what people be really thinking about me. I think people be thinking some serious stuff about me, but skill-wise I feel like I’m the best boxer in boxing. That’s my opinion. I knew what it was going to be. I watched Christopher Diaz. He’s a good fighter. He’s not a bad fighter. I think he’s going to give a lot of people at 126 trouble. But I don’t know, I just studied him and I realized that I have grown into my man strength. You could see it in my fight before this one. I’m growing into my man strength, but for this one, I wanted to stick with what works and I wanted to improve on my boxing and show everybody that I can box.
PC: I think you have the Ray Leonard thing going where people look at you as a pretty boy and in their minds, the first experienced pressure fighter will break you.
SS: Yeah, for sure. I don’t believe that. I think I am physically strong; I have enough power to keep people honest. Christopher Diaz was hurt two or three times in that fight if you really look at it. His power kind of kept him from getting knocked out. But I just feel like that’s not what it is. I think you’re right. That’s the stigma they are placing on me, but I don’t think that’s true. I’m built with something different. I’m really going to be one of the best fighters ever one day. This is a process and this is just the beginning.
PC: You maintained a steady output and put a lot of combinations together and I think that not only kept him honest, but it also kept him guessing.
SS: Yeah, for sure. I was watching a lot of Floyd vs. Arturo Gatti for that fight. He was throwing a lot of punches in the Gatti fight and I wanted to throw a lot of punches against Diaz, especially early because I wanted to let him know I’m here. I ain’t going nowhere and you’re going to see me the whole fight. I wanted him to know that I was here.
PC: Even when throwing combinations, you were defensively responsible, much like Floyd against Gatti. How important was that to let your hands go while not taking damage in return?
SS: It’s very important. The thing with that is I really know my distance. I know how to be at a distance where I can land my punches on you, but you really can’t hit me as much as I can hit you. I learned my distance at a young age and it’s only getting better and better as I get older. But keeping that defense is my main thing too because I don’t want to take a lot of punishment in the sport. I want to get my bag and get out.
PC: I’m sure it was a confidence booster getting instructions from Terence Crawford pre-fight and actually having him in the back watching your fight before his fight.
SS: Me and him talked before I got out there. He was telling me to go out there and start fast. He usually watch me spar, so he was telling me stuff that he saw during sparring that he wanted me to work on. He was saying, “Don’t go out there and wait too long and give up rounds.” I told him, “I got him.” I was going to start fast and keep the same pace throughout the fight. He was on me. We shared the same locker room, so it was good.
PC: Your last 7 opponents have a combined record of 119-10-3. You keep saying you are ready for the world champions, and looking at the opposition you have faced early in your career, I’m not sure anyone could argue with you at this point.
SS: Some of them fights people were telling me not to take. Certain people on my team didn’t feel like I should have accepted that last fight against Christopher Diaz. I feel like I’m ready for a lot of the champions. I’ve been in there with world champion fighters; Lomachenko and Terence Crawford. I’ve sparred Gary Russell before, who is a world champion at my weight. I have sparred guys like that and I’m getting better and better ever since. Right now, I’m a whole different fighter than when I was working with them. I know I got what it takes and that’s really the main thing.
PC: You have been scheduled to go 10 rounds before, but that was your first time actually going the distance. How did it feel and how did you feel afterwards?
SS: Honestly, it felt like sparring (laughing). It kind of felt like sparring. When I spar, I don’t get tired or nothing. I just do what I want. I put in a lot of rounds for sparring, but it felt like sparring for sure.
PC: You have always said Josh Warrington’s name. I’m sure you are a very interested spectator for his upcoming bout against Kid Galahad. Is the plan to get one of the world champions in the ring by the end of the year or probably more like early 2020?
SS: Most likely it’s probably early 2020, but if it’s up to me, I’ll take one of them world champions the end of this year. They have two world champions who I can definitely get in the ring with and it ain’t going to be no Top Rank-Al Haymon problems. Josh Warrington and I have a stablemate, Oscar Valdez, and he has a world title. Them fights can be made easy. The guy Oscar Valdez is fighting next doesn’t have nowhere near the resume I have, but he’s getting a world title shot. I pay attention to stuff like that. I just feel like by the end of the year, it won’t be hard for me and him to get in the ring and fight. We both with Top Rank. It shouldn’t be hard for him to fight Shakur Stevenson.
PC: I know if you had your way, you would be fighting a world champion tomorrow. Andre Ward seems to be your voice of reason and teaching you patience, but after performances like the Diaz performance, I’m sure you’re getting antsy.
SS: I understand what he is saying. Andre Ward wants me to win it, win it in style, and when I win it, be ready to maintain it. He wants me to be aware that when I win it, the competition is not going to go down, it’s only going to get better. He wants me to be ready for that. He don’t want me to win a world title and think it’s going to be sweet. I know the competition will get harder and people will be coming after me because they want my title. I know he’s right and I agree with him; I just feel like I’m ready for that too. Coming up in the amateurs, it was the same thing. I feel like I was the one amateur who was on top the whole time and everybody wanted my spot. I had to keep beating everybody every time. It’s the same thing, just at a bigger stage now.
PC: Unfortunately, we are in an era where everything that is said is taken literal. I understood what you meant when you said if you were to fight Lomachenko today, you would bet your purse on yourself, but obviously a lot of fans took that as a call-out and disrespect. Could you elaborate?
SS: It ain’t even just him. That’s what they don’t understand. If it was Tank, Tevin, any of them, I feel like any fighter that I’m going against, I feel like I will bet my last on myself. I’m just that type of person and I’m that confident that I can beat these people. All them people did take that comment the wrong way, but it is what it is. I ain’t tripping. They called all the greats crazy before they became great. All the greats that jumped in the ring and dared to be great, they said stuff about them people. And not just in boxing. Michael Jordan to Kobe Bryant to Ali. All of these dudes they called crazy. “Do he really think this way?” Yeah! This is the way I think.
PC: Imagine some of the stuff them dudes would have put out there if they had social media. Could you imagine Muhammad Ali on social media or Mike Tyson when they were active fighters.
SS: Come on. Imagine if they had social media like we have it. I feel like they would go on Twitter and say some of the same stuff or even worse if we’re being realistic. The media would take that a certain way. It is what it is. I don’t really focus on the media or any of them people. They can say whatever they want. I know what I’m built with. Just keep tuning in and I’m going to show everybody that I will be one of the best ever!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrLouis1ana ]