Top Rank and Antonio Leonard Productions announced its latest signing and it’s a sterling one — 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson. Stevenson, 19, from Newark, NJ, sailed though every stage of his Olympic competition in Rio De Janeiro last summer before losing a close split decision in the bantamweight championship fight to 2012 flyweight Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez of Cuba.
Ramirez swept the judges’ scorecards in round one with Stevenson returning the favor in round two. In the third and final round, the closest of the three rounds, two of the three judges gave the round to Ramirez and the gold medal, by the slimmest of margins. It was the best finish for an American male boxer since Andre Ward captured the gold medal in the Athens Games of 2004.
Ward is now part of Stevenson’s management team along with James Prince and attorney Josh Dubin. The only boxer to make Forbes “30 Under 30” in its Sports category, Stevenson was selected by a panel of judges comprised of James Harden, shooting guard for the Houston Rockets, Phil Knight, Chairman Emeritus of Nike and Casey Wasserman, Chairman and CEO of the Wasserman Group. Stevenson will make his pro debut as a featherweight . The date and site of his pro debut will be announced at a later time.
“Top Rank is the best there is in boxing,” said Stevenson. “Look at their champions — great champions — like Terence Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. This is where I want to be.”
“Top Rank has a rich history in building superstars. We thought Top Rank would be the best fit,” said Ward.
“The best days for Shakur begin now, ” said Prince. ” We are excited to align him with Top Rank.”
“Top Rank is where we want to be,” said Leonard.
“He’s young, he has charisma, reminds me of a very young Sugar Ray Leonard and our matchmakers Bruce Trampler and Brad Goodman say Shakur can fight,
said Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum. “He will box as a featherweight, the same weight division as Michael Conlan our Irish Olympian.”
“From the outset, Shakur was targeted by Bruce and Brad as one of the most skilled American boxers,” said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank. “He possesses all the major components to be the total package — great skills matched with a winning personality. That combination bodes well for a very prosperous career.”
Newark came to a standstill each time Stevenson stepped into the ring in his quest to win Olympic gold. On the day he fought Ramirez, “Stevenson Fever” was at its peak. Barry Carter, columnist for the Star-Ledger, reported the following: “At Broad and Market streets, the city put its ’24 Hour of Peace’ rally on hold and set up a big screen for residents to watch the fight.” At the CityPlex 12 Theater in Newark, hundreds of fans and family members wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “In Shakur’s Corner,” crammed in to see the fight, all sitting on the edge of their seats, to watch the live-streamed fight and cheer for their man.
The oldest of nine children, Stevenson, who is named for the late rap star Tupac Shakur, was introduced to boxing by his grandfather, Willie “Wali” Moses, at age 5. Now based in northern Virginia, Stevenson is trained by Kay Koroma.