“I’ve thought that and been thinking that, that that kid is special,” said Austin Trout.
The former world super-welterweight champion from New Mexico was talking about lightweight champion Shakir Stevenson, and it has nothing to do with column inches or the self-belief Stevenson clearly has, it is from the eye test and having followed Stevenson’s progress to 20-0.
Stevenson meets tough Edwin De Los Santos on Thursday in Las Vegas for the vacant WBC lightweight title.
“As far as boxing goes and what he does in that ring, Shakur is good,” Trout added.
Trout was a champion who defeated Miguel Cotto back in 2012, losing the crown to Canelo Alvarez four months after his biggest win and after four defences of the title he’d beaten Canelo’s brother, Rigoberto, for.
Shakur is in and around the right weight to face some of the sport’s biggest names. While he’s new to 135lbs, already many hope he will climb to 140. There are dream matches with the likes of Tank Davis, Lomachenko, Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez and Ryan Garcia.
Trout thinks, when it is all said and done, that Newark hero Stevenson could be the best of all of them.
“I think Shakur could be the best of the lot, absolutely,” Trout added. “Potential-wise and current talent-wise. And it’s not even the hype, I’ve been a believer even before he started all of the barking. I saw this kid as someone special. Shakur Stevenson is Andre Ward special, and he’s got Andre Ward in his corner.”
Ward, alongside Terence Crawford, are part of a braintrust and band of brothers Stevenson can and does call upon for help and advice.
Trout won an eight-rounder in Germany last month, and already has an eye on his life after boxing. He is now 37-5-1 (18 KOs)
This weekend, in the Team Combat League in Houston, Trout is hosting tryouts for a team of male and female fighters with coach Bobby Benton, so they can enter the Houston Hitmen franchise into the league.
“It’s balls to the wall for three rounds,” said Trout. “Houston has a lot of good fighters so I’m happy to be part of the team that’s going to win this year’s championships. I’ve got some guys who are real hungry in my gym, I’m real hungry, and it’s really good for boxing and the boxers.”