By Kirk Jackson
The US Boxing Olympic Trials concluded this past weekend in Reno, NV.
With a seven days worth of competitive action featuring the best amateurs in the world, we saw clarity as the official US Olympic team was filled out.
2016 Olympic Trials Champions
108 lbs: Nico Hernandez, Wichita, Kansas
114 lbs: Antonio Vargas, Kissimmee, Fla.
123 lbs: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J.
141 lbs: Gary Russell, Capitol Heights, Md.
152 lbs: Paul Kroll, Philadelphia, Pa.
165 lbs: Charles Conwell, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
178 lbs: Jonathan Esquivel, Anaheim, Calif.
201 lbs: Cam F. Awesome, Lenexa, Kansas
201+ lbs: Marlo Moore, Hayward, Calif.
The amount of talented fighters is numerous; as many standout, gifted fighters engaged in spirited competition, leading up to the final selection of athletes who will represent the red, white and blue come summer of 2016.
There is however, a noticeable, transcendent talent, leaving a lasting impression on whoever witnesses his skills up close.
It’s still early to call, but Newark’s own Shakur Stevenson is on the pathway to having a great career.
Listed at 5’6” and still growing, the 18-year-old Stevenson the list of accomplishments thus far is as followed:
2014 Youth Olympic Games Gold Medalist
2014 Youth World Champion
2013 Junior World Champion
2013 Victory Day Champion
2012 Junior Olympic National Champion
2013 Junior World Team Open Champion
2012 Veles Cup Champion
The young man has it all; lightening hand speed, ring awareness, ring generalship, defensively responsible and offensively capable.
He appears to anticipate his opponent’s moves before they make them; a trait he shares with the two fighters he looks up to. You may have heard of them; 1996 Bronze Olympic Medalist Floyd Mayweather and 2004 Gold Olympic Medalist Andre Ward.
Although he does not necessarily fight like Mayweather and Ward in regards to style, he shares some common traits and possesses a similar work ethic. Most notably, the swift southpaw Stevenson has an amazing jab. He can essentially win fights off his jab alone.
Stevenson, named after hip hop legend, Tupac Shakur, has showcased a fighting spirit similar to the martyr.
Although considered a favorite heading into the Olympic trials, Stevenson suffered two defeats from the standout amateur champion, Ruben Villa earlier in the year.
Setting his screensaver to a picture of Villa leading up to the trials, Stevenson used it as motivation as he avenged those losses, beating Villa twice during the trials to secure the spot at 123 lbs.
“It’s a dream come true,” Stevenson told reporters in Reno. “That (screen shot) was my motivation.”
“My jab helped me out a lot in that fight. I got it done,” Stevenson said. “I think my chances of qualifying internationally are really good. I’ve never lost overseas.”
Stevenson by the way is 17-0 in international competition and his chances for winning gold looks promising.
If he wants to continue in the footsteps of Mayweather and Ward, medaling is certainly an important part of the process.