Top Rank has landed a major talent, signing 19-year-old Newark native Shakur Stevenson to a promotional deal. Stevenson won silver at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio as a bantamweight, and will fight professionally as a featherweight.
Stevenson, who lost to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez in the gold medal fight in Rio, is arguably the best Team USA prospect since Andre Ward, who was the States’ last gold medal winner back at Athens 2004, and Top Rank’s Bob Arum is over the moon about the signing.
"I love the kid. The kid is a delight to be with. He's charming, he's got charisma, he's intelligent. And we know he's talented. He's the whole package, and he's extraordinarily mature for a 19-year-old kid. My matchmakers say he's a major, major boxing talent, and I feel I can judge whether he has charisma and marketability and I believe he does. I think this kid can be the next American superstar.”
Stevenson is co-managed by James Prince, Josh Dubin, and Andre Ward, and the Prince connection helped Top Rank secure the deal, according to ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael, as Arum and Prince go way back. Top Rank’s deal will be a co-promotional deal with Antonio Leonard, another veteran of the boxing business.
Stevenson was courted and scouted, so to speak, by every major American promoter, and early belief and rumor around the time of the Olympics was that Mayweather Promotions were making an aggressive play to promote his pro career.
Stevenson on signing with Top Rank:
"I just wanted to work with some of the best in business and I know Top Rank creates superstars, from Oscar to Floyd to Cotto. They've created a bunch of superstars. I wanted the route where I am made into a superstar and take over the sport of boxing. I signed with Top Rank because of what they've done in the business. They have a proven track record.”
Arum wants to have Stevenson debut in April, fighting on the Vasyl Lomachenko-Jason Sosa card at the new MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, just outside of Washington, DC, if HBO will televise his fight. Given the likelihood of Stevenson becoming an HBO regular for many years to come, it almost seems like they might as well be the network that introduces him right away.