Shakur Stevenson aims to continue his journey to the greatness many predict for him against Edwin De Le Santos on Saturday.
Stevenson is 20-0 with 10 stoppages and is looking to continue collecting belts at 135lbs, starting with De Los Santos for the WBC lightweight title having won belts at featherweight and super-featherweight.
Stevenson has had to field umpteen questions about Devin Haney, Tank Davis, Ryan Garcia and all of the other major names around his weight class, and he was asked whether he and De Los Santos were on good terms given nobody seems to be in a hurry to face either of them. A fight with Frank Martin failed to materialise for the Newark talent and an agreement couldn’t be reached with Haney.
“Me and Edwin aren’t cool,” Stevenson said. “Fighters are ducking him, fighters are ducking me so we ended up fighting each other… Truthfully, I ain’t cool with him.”
De Los Santos, 16-1 and from the Dominican Republic, called for Stevenson, and he now has him in Vegas, but Stevenson doesn’t give him credit for the that.
“He has done what I do, so I don’t really give him no props for it,” Stevenson added. “He tried to pull a me on me. Once he pulled a me, I answered the phonecall. Now we’re here. I think he’s a harder challenge than Frank Martin. I’ve been watching him so I see that he’s got great movement and punching power. I watched his fight with Rayo [Jose Valenzuela] and he kept catching him in the exchanges. He’s real good at exchanging with fighters so we will see on fight night how he presents himself. I think he’s a bigger puncher than Frank Martin.”
On the same bill, Mexican star Emanuel Navarrete meets Brazilian Robson Conceicao (outscored by Stevenson in September 2022) in what many think is an eliminator to face Stevenson in the future.
“I think Navarette is going to win but what you need to understand early is styles make fights so if Navarette stops him quicker than I do or he messes his face up more or whatever you want to say – still, styles make fights,” Stevenson explained.
“So stylistically I see him probably stopping Conceicao late, but I think Navarette will have some trouble early.”
While some might envisage the Navarrete fight being on tap, Stevenson would be happy to mix it up with any of the big names at 135, including Ukraine star Vasiliy Lomachenko
“I think it’s a bigger fight [than Navarrete] and he has a bigger name at 135 so when I smoke him [Lomachenko] I think the world will understand I really am the truth,” Stevenson continued. “I thought he beat Devin [Haney]. I think there’s a possibility I would stop him and, if not, I’d be beating the shit out of him.”
Many talked of the Big Four at lightweight for years, with Ryan Garcia, Tank, Haney and Loma. But Haney and Garcia have moved up and pickings are now more slender for Stevenson. That said, he won’t chase others north for the sake of it, because he’s only new to 135 himself.
“I could stay here at 135 for a long time, I haven’t got any trouble making weight,” Stevenson said. “I enjoy fighting here so I’ll be here a long time. I’m not going to speak on sparring, I keep that in the gym, but I would love to fight Lomachenko. I don’t know why we didn’t fight this fight. I heard he got offered the biggest purse of his career and turned it down so hopefully we can still make something happen. I don’t see why not. I’d invite him to this [against De Los Santos]. Tell him to pull up.”
But the word is that should Stevenson and Navarrete both win, they will meet in 2024. It was not a fight Stevenson was tripping himself over to have, he wants the bigger names for the bigger money, but there’s an old school ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach to the sport from Stevenson and he will duck no one.
“You’ve got to ask Top Rank, they can probably answer that question,” Stevenson said on speculation on the Navarrete fight. “Whoever, whenever, as long as the business is right, I’m ready for it. Navarrete is on the undercard, hopefully he’s going to do his thing, I’m going to do my thing and we could be fighting next.”