Hot off his high-profile pro debut, 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson will soon return to the ring for his second professional bout. The crown jewel of the U.S. Olympic boxing team and the Pride of Newark, New Jersey, will be featured in a six-round featherweight bout on the undercard of the Terrence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz World Junior Welterweight Championship, Saturday, May 20, at the Mecca of Boxing, Madison Square Garden.
He'll be facing Carlos Suarez, (6-3-2, one KO), from La Plata, Argentina. This will be the first time Stevenson has fought close to home since the New Jersey Golden Gloves in early 2015. Crawford vs. Díaz will be televised live on HBO World Championship Boxing, beginning at 10:15 p.m. ET/PT.
Stevenson, 19, made his pro debut, on April 22, defeating Edgar Brito via a six-round featherweight technical decision. The fight was stopped just after the beginning of the sixth round with the ringside doctor ruling that Brito was cut too badly from an earlier clash of heads to continue.
Stevenson won every round on every judge's scorecard. The fight was featured on a world championship tripleheader pay-per-view telecast at StubHub Center in Carson Calif. Stevenson has been training for this fight in Colorado Springs with Crawford.
“It’s been a long time since I fought so close to home and I can’t wait to perform in front of my friends and family," said Stevenson. My city has always supported me and I know that Newark is going to come out on May 20.
"There have been so many huge fights at Madison Square Garden and I’m excited to fight in the Big Room where so many greats have fought before. I’m training out in Colorado with Terence Crawford and I’m happy I get to fight on his card in such a historic arena. I’m going to make sure everyone comes out and supports us both. It feels good to have my first pro fight under my belt.
"My pro debut was great, I had two Olympic gold medalists walk me out and my hero Andre Ward ringside yelling instructions to me. My opponent was tough and tried to make it dirty but I learned a lot and am going to put that knowledge to good use on May 20 in my first east coast professional fight.”
"I have to admit, I'm a little jealous. Shakur has the opportunity to fight at The Garden in his second fight, where as I've fought over 30 times and have yet to have a fight on that sacred ground," said two-division world champion Andre Ward, who co-manages Stevenson.
"Actually, I guess that's the way it's supposed to be. The next generation going further than the older generation. I'm super excited for him, he shines the brightest on the biggest stage. There are not too many bigger stages than The Garden in boxing, and really all of sports.”
“My first fight there was exciting being that it was Madison Square Garden, but it was in The Theater. I didn’t get to fight in the Big Room in my first fight like Shakur," said Crawford. "I’m excited to fight in the Big Room being that there hasn’t been a Top Rank show there since Miguel Cotto. I'm glad Shakur will be on the card with me."
"It's only his second professional fight, but Shakur is more than ready to make his debut on boxing's biggest stage, Madison Square Garden," said Todd duBoef, president of Top Rank.. "He is made for the bright lights of the Big Apple and he will shine like a diamond on May 20."
In last year's Summer Games, Stevenson sailed though every stage of his Olympic competition in Rio De Janeiro 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. 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.
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.
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 Moses and Kay Koroma.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with DiBella Entertainment, Tecate, Antonio Leonard Productions and Madison Square Garden, remaining tickets to the Crawford vs. Díaz world championship event are priced at $250, $150, $100, $75, $50 and $35. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden Box Office, all Ticketmaster outlets, Ticketmaster charge by phone (866-858-0008), and online at www.ticketmaster.com and www.thegarden.com.