LAS VEGAS: Shakur Stevenson has long appeared destined for the pinnacle of boxing.
Even going back as far as 2019, Top Rank CEO and founder Bob Arum told me that he regarded Stevenson as a mirror image of Floyd Mayweather — a left-handed version of TBE.
"I think Shakur may even exceed Mayweather's accomplishments because I think he is going to develop not only as this great defensive fighter, which he is, but will have a better offensive arsenal than Floyd had," Arum told me at the time. "There's a tremendous upside to Shakur."
In the years since, that upside is beginning to be felt worldwide in boxing.
"There's no ceiling for Shakur Stevenson," Top Rank gym boss Frank Stea told me. "He's just getting better. And he's getting smarter, and that's why it's harder for us to find opponents.
"I say this, and you know I'm going to keep it real … he's the only one that's going to beat him. He's going to be his toughest opponent.
"There are some great fighters at 135, and 140, there are some great match-ups but he can go as far as he wants to go," Stea said. "He can become the best fighter of all time."
Top Rank regards Stevenson as a destroyer — regardless of opponent
On Thusday at the T-Mobile Arena — a Las Vegas event he headlines — Stevenson fights Edwin de los Santos at lightweight and hopes to become a three-weight world champion after previous title wins at super featherweight, and featherweight.
It's the first time Stevenson has returned to the Fight Capital of the World since his signature decision win over Oscar Valdez, which he can trump should he continue to handle all that Top Rank throws at him.
And, believe me, they're confident they can throw a lot at him.
Regardless of who you speak to in informal settings at Top Rank, the promotional company backing Stevenson, there are people who are confident Stevenson easily defeats the thunderous puncher and box office star Gervonta Davis.
There are even those who believe he beats Davis even worse than the manner in which Stevenson's mentor Terence Crawford dismantled Errol Spence Jr. in thrilling fashion earlier in the summer.
Even if that super-fight cannot be made any time soon, Top Rank has been assembling a roster of super featherweight to super lightweight fighters capable of providing interesting opposition to one of their premiere athletes.
Between Emmanuel Navarrete, who also fights Thursday, Raymond Muratella, and Stevenson's preferred rival Vasiliy Lomachenko, Top Rank may well have the 26-year-old's imminent future sorted, providing he re-signs with the company when his contract expires following his next fight after de los Santos.
"Lomachenko has a big name at 135," Stevenson told ProBox TV at the start of his camp for de los Santos in September. "[And when] I smoke him, people will understand I'm the truth. It's a possibility I stop him, and if not I beat the shit out of him [through 12 rounds]."
Stevenson claimed that Lomachenko was offered the chance to fight him this year, and said he doesn't know why it hasn't happened yet. "But I'd love to fight Lomachenko," adding that he regards the Ukrainian to have beaten Haney, despite the American getting a somewhat controversial decision win in May.
So, should he defeat Lomachenko — in a style that Haney could not manage — then it could set him up for higher profile fights, with even greater paydays.
Stevenson may be a future $100 million boxer
Stevenson's stablemate Tyson Fury could bank approximately $100-200 million for his upcoming heavyweight unification with Oleksandr Usyk, according to Arum.
If Stevenson is deemed the sport's future No.1, could he be the next Top Rank star to start earning 9-figure paydays himself?
"Don't ask me," Arum told me. "Ask our friends in Saudi Arabia."
He continued: "They're putting up the money" for fights like Fury against Francis Ngannou, and now Fury vs. Usyk, amongst others.
Laughing, Stevenson told me: "I would love to fight in Saudi Arabia,"
Previously, he's spoken of being an avoided fighter, similar — but perhaps worse, he says — to Jaron Ennis at welterweight.
So it may be difficult to get the kinds of signature wins against top tier opponents if those big names are loathe to stand across from in the opposite corner of the ring.
That, in the past, has been a sure fire way to add zeros to purses.
These days, though, there is possibly a different route while Saudi ambassador Turki Alalshikh is splashing absurd amounts of cash to bring some of the sport's most notable events to that region.
"They should definitely bring somebody of my talents out there to put on a show."
As for who his ideal opponent in such a setting would be, Stevenson — aware that he doesn't want to avoid anyone, like they might perhaps with him — said he'd fight "anybody."
Finishing, and talking about fights involving Stevenson against 'Tank' Davis, Haney, Ryan Garcia, or Teofimo Lopez, Stea said: Give it another year, or another two years, and I think there'll be a big fight where these guys can make incredible paydays.
"As for $100 million? I think he gets there even if it's toward the end of his career."