By: Hans Themistode
Time sure does move fast doesn’t it?
It feels like just the other day, every one associated with the red, white and blue were pulling for Shakur Stevenson to bring home the gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.
Well, 2016 wasn’t that far away now was it?
Just three short years ago, Stevenson was dazzling the crowds in Rio De Janeiro. He made everyone back home in America proud as he brung home the silver medal. There was no need for Stevenson to stay in the unpaid ranks. He proved that he could hang with many of the top boxers in the world.
His decision to turn pro was an excellent one. 12 fights with no defeats provides credence to that statement.
Like other pro fighters, the road to the top was supposed to be a slow one. There was no need to rush him, he was after all, just 18 years of age. Unlike many young fighters who enjoy working there way from prospect, to contender to world champion, Stevenson was impatient.
After two years of fighting easy opposition, Stevenson made a huge statement earlier this year when he outclassed former title challenger Christopher Diaz. It was an eye opening performance. Stevenson gave a glimpse of what the future would be like, but who knew that the future would be coming so soon.
After knocking out Alberto Guevara in just three rounds in his most recent ring appearance. Stevenson had effectively worked his way to the mandatory position in the WBO sanctioning body. He will now fight for the vacant world title when he takes on Joet Gonzalez at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, in Reno, Nevada.
What should be your typical championship level fight, is anything but normal at this point.
Stevenson and Gonzalez have a history together. One that is a bit messy once you dive into it. Stevenson is currently dating Gonzalez’s sister. Jajaira, who is a terrific boxer in her own right, met Stevenson several years ago and developed a bond with him. That bond however, is one that her older brother and Stevenson’s opponent would like to see change.
“I never liked him since the amateurs,” he says, enumerating the ways of his dislike: “Fake-ass handshake… Loud, obnoxious, disrespectful… The way he dresses, half his ass showing. That ain’t no style. I mean, you think that looks cute? Come on, man, pick up your pants.”
Stevenson has since fired back with taunts of his own.
“He’s a bitch,” said Stevenson.
Although the main storyline of this rivalry has been the relationship between Stevenson and Gonzalez sister, there is something else that hasn’t garnered nearly as much attention.
While preparing for the biggest fight of his life, Stevenson suffered a major loss in his life. The death of his father Alfredo Rivera. Their relationship has been a rocky one over the years but Stevenson does hold a broken heart when he enters the ring.
“If I’m being honest with you, I’m bipolar,” Stevenson said of his relationship with his father. “I’m a bipolar type of person. Sometimes me and him would talk, and sometimes he’d reach out to me and I’d kind of shy away from him because I still had some anger inside of me. I’m dealing with it well. I’m hurting because that’s my blood. That’s my Dad and I can’t go and look him in the face, knowing he’s not here no more. At the end of the day, he did love me and with my boxing, he loved what I became.”
What was supposed to be nothing more than a title shot has morphed into a love story and much more. Hopefully the winner of this contest can put everything else behind them. For Stevenson however, that might be much easier said than done.