Ward: Stevenson's destined to join all-time greats

Shakur Stevenson is capable of earning parity with Floyd Mayweather, Terence Crawford and Andre Ward, according to Ward. 

The decorated triumvirate were pictured with Stevenson in his dressing room before his fight in November against Edwin de los Santos at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when he won but struggled to impress. 

Stevenson has long been spoken of as the likely successor to Crawford as the world’s finest active fighter. In the lightweight division that also features Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Andy Cruz and until recently Devin Haney, he has also long been widely recognised as the most naturally talented fighter of them all.

It is perhaps for that reason that the 26-year-old WBC champion was criticised for his performance throughout the tedious fight with De Los Santos. Ward, however, saw in him the same discipline that inspired so much not only of his success but Mayweather’s, and to a lesser degree Crawford – ultimately three of America’s finest fighters of all time. 

“He’s got everything,” Ward told ProBox TV. “He’s got all the stuff that all of us have, but there’s gonna be nights like that. There’s gonna be nights like that, and, if he can pull back the layers and tell you everything he went through in camp, that would hopefully inform the people a little bit more. But at the same time there is no excuse. This is the pressure that you have to shoulder being in the conversation as one of the best fighters in the world; being in the conversation of being the best fighter in your weight class; being in the conversation as one day being an all-time great. You can’t afford to have a bad night. 

“But the perspective that I gave him was, ‘Even though you didn’t have the night you wanted to have, here’s the silver lining – some guys have a bad night and they’re looking up at the lights, getting woke up; some guys have a bad night and they’re walking outta the ring with their hand low because they had a loss; some guys have a bad night, they’re at the hospital and they’re bruised up. If you have a bad night I’d rather you have a bad night the way you had it and get your cheque and kiss your family and figure out how to be better next time. 

“The silver lining of it all is once you get past, ‘I didn’t perform well; I didn’t like the way I looked; I gotta do better; I didn’t feel right’. Once you get past all that here’s something you can take home with you – your bad night is a night where you’re not going to the emergency room, you have a nice cheque that you can deposit in the bank on Monday morning, and you’re in your right mind if you can talk to your family. That’s not such a terrible night.”

Ward was speaking to promote the publication of his book Killing The Image, and asked of the photo taken in Stevenson’s dressing room, he said: “It’s fight time for me, so I wasn’t really doing a lot of talking. I was pretty much locked in – I feel it a lot when I got people I’m close to that are fighting. I get more nervous for them than I did for myself. 

“But Floyd just came to support – [Stevenson] has a relationship with Floyd; he obviously has a relationship with Terence Crawford. We didn’t expect to take that photo – it just kind of happened. It’s just people rallying around a young fighter and trying to give back and show support.

“He’s gonna take a little bit from everybody and he’s still trying to figure it out. But he’s accomplished a lot along the way. [Observers] lost sight of that. He’s got everything it takes [to match our achievements].”