In 2013, former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson was blamed for the poor performances of the USA Boxing team after one of its best players decided to turn professional under Iron Mike Promotions. With Shakur Stevenson in the 2016 Rio Olympics a gold medal seems within reach.
And perhaps Mike Tyson will be spared from USA Boxing’s jabs this time around.
After USA Boxing got blanked during the 2012 Olympics in London, its president Dr. Charles Butler blamed Tyson for depleting the country’s amateur talents by convincing boxers to become professional athletes, specifically citing Erickson Lubin, whom he described as the country’s best hope.
But how good really is Shakur Stevenson?
For starters, Shakur has a 23-0 international record. He is the first American male boxer to win junior and youth world titles and a Youth Olympic Games gold medal.
Shakur Stevenson sometimes trains and spars in the Mayweather gym. Floyd Mayweather Jr. himself has expressed how impressed he was of Stevenson’s boxing skills.
Another prizefighter that has his eyes set on Stevenson winning the gold medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics is undefeated welterweight Errol Spence Jr. (20-0) who is himself touted as a future boxing superstar.
“I’m looking for Shakur Stevenson. That kid, he’s talented. He’s a gold medal favorite. He can fight. Very talented, very skilled. His boxing IQ is very high… the most talented boxer on that team,” Errol Spence Jr. said via Boxing Scene.
Shakur fights best as a counterpuncher. He has fast hands, and he moves well. The change of head gear rules in the 2016 Rio Olympics will likely favor a boxer with his style because he fights from the mid-range, thus, less likely to get hit by head butts.
It is going to be crucial with the fight schedules and close intervals.
Shakur Stevenson is also a very well rounded boxer, and he can move well if needed, and can adjust accordingly to his opponent. He does not have a one-punch knockout power, but his timing and skill in putting punches together will come into play.
He is a southpaw, and idolizes Andre Ward, who last won the gold medal for the USA in 2014. There’s been a medal drought since, in spite of the U.S. having so many talented boxers.
But it looks like the chances of winning gold for boxing in Rio are high this time around with Shakur Stevenson. And so are the chances of Mike Tyson escaping further blame.
Stevenson’s first fight in Rio will be on Aug. 14th.