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April 11, 2017

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: SHAKUR STEVENSON
By G. Leon

Shakur eager to Hit Em Up on April 22

GL: I know you started boxing at five years old and had your first fight when you were eight. At that age was it something you already wanted to do, or were you brought to the gym to be taught? When I first started I want to say that I was doing it because it was fun to be honest with you. My grandfather brought me to the gym when I was five and once I got there I had fun with it and that's what got me into boxing, that's when I started to watch box

GL: A lot of promoters were coming at you at 100 miles per hour. What lead to you signing with Top Rank?

Shakur Stevenson: "If you look the track record of all of these promoters and see what they do with superstars, look at what they've done with Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Terence Crawford, Manny Pacquiao and Vasyl Lomachenko, they know how to create superstars. I plan on being a superstar in this sport so I feel like that was the best place for me to be."

GL: When you were in the Olympics everybody assumed that you were going to be managed or represented by Floyd Mayweather Jr in some form or fashion and then you signed with James Prince and Andre Ward. What lead to that decision?

SS: "I was a lot closer with Andre Ward than other big time fighters in the game. Being that I was close with him and we talked all the time and then being able to meet James Prince and see what an amazing person he is, I actually had a long conversation with him before even signing with him. Seeing the kind of guy he was and what he was about it seemed like it was the perfect move for me."

GL: How did you and Andre Ward first become friends?

SS: "When I was younger, I think I was 17, there was this kid from my gym Antoine Douglas and he went to spar with Andre Ward in Oakland so I went with him. Andre Ward had been my favorite fighter for such a long time and I wanted to meet him, so I went there and stayed there for the whole training camp and I really enjoyed myself and that's how we really got to clicking."

GL: You were named after Tupac Shakur, have you listened to all of his music yet?

SS: "Yes, I listen to a lot of Tupac."

GL: What's your favorite Pac track?

SS: "I would have to say either Dear Mama or Hit Em Up."

GL: How is everything going in preparation for April 22? What can boxing fans expect to see from you in your pro debut? 

SS: "I guess they could expect everything they think I'm capable of, I plan on giving them big things in my pro debut and I plan on going in there and trying to catch a good knockout, that's really my plan."

GL: What are your goals for year one?

SS: "I want to establish my name a lot more. I think I got a big name in boxing in boxing already. I want to regarded as one of the best prospects in boxing, that's my main goal."

GL: How many times would you like to fight this year?

SS: "As much as I can. As many as Top Rank can get me."

GL: What are your goals in boxing? What are you trying to accomplish in this sport?

SS: "I want to go down as a legend like Sugar Ray Leonard or Sugar Ray Robinson. I want my name to go down in history as one of the greatest to ever do it."

GL: Bob Arum is very high on you, he's called you the next Sugar Ray Leonard. Does that put any extra pressure on you?

SS: "Honestly it doesn't put any pressure on me, I've been dealing with pressure my whole life. Every time I fight a lot of people would come around my ring, so there's been a lot of eyes in me for a long time so I've never been one to let pressure get to me."

GL: Bob Arum also said, after looking into his crystal ball, that he sees a super fight with you and Michael Conlan in the next five years or less. I spoke to Conlan recently and asked him what he felt about that and if he considers you a rival. He said he does and looks forward to the fight happening when it's a mega fight for both of you. Do you consider him a rival?

SS: "I do and I can't wait until that time comes, but I really got to focus on what's in front of me right now. I've got to focus on what's in my way now. I know he's got a huge Irish fan base, so I'm sure when it happens it's going to be a huge fight and I'll really be looking forward to it."

GL: What part of your game do you feel needs the most sharpening?

SS: "I would have to say my power and getting a little bit stronger."

GL: So you don't feel like you've got that man strength yet.

SS: "Not yet, but it's coming and then it's going to be very difficult for these guys to deal with me. I'm strong enough now to take care of business with what I've got, but I'm only going to improve from here."

GL: Who is your favorite fighter of all time?

SS: "Andre Ward."

GL: Obviously you're riding with Ward in the Kovalev rematch.

SS: "Of course. I feel like when it's a boxer versus a puncher, the boxer always wins the rematch. Every time Floyd fought somebody and they thought he had a hard time, he destroyed them in the rematch and that's how I feel this fight is going to be."

GL: What's your favorite movie?

SS: "I would have to say The Lion King and Friday."

GL: What's your favorite music? What do you bump to when you're training?

SS: "I listen to all kinds of music, but I love Kevin Gates. Free my man Kevin Gates! I also listen to a lot of Meek Millz and Don Q."

GL: Is there anything you'd like to say to the fans in closing?

SS: "I look forward to me doing a lot of big things year, I look forward to turning pro on April 22, I'm going to put on a show."

Send questions and comments to: boxingtalkg@Yahoo.com



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