By Keith Idec
OMAHA, Nebraska – Terence Crawford knows more than any other boxer about Shakur Stevenson’s development.
The unbeaten WBO welterweight champion is a mentor to the 21-year-old featherweight prospect, who usually trains alongside Crawford in Colorado Springs, Colorado. They sparred against each other during their recently completed camp, and Crawford came away from those sessions feeling Stevenson is “real slick.”
Stevenson (8-0, 4 KOs) will face Viorel Simion (21-2, 9 KOs) in a 10-round featherweight fight Saturday night on the Crawford-Jose Benavidez Jr. undercard at CHI Health Center. ESPN will broadcast both bouts as part of a show set to start at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.
“Shakur, man, he’s a tremendous talent,” Crawford said before they weighed in Friday at CHI Health Center. “He’s gonna be the next superstar to come. All he gotta do is stay focused and keep doing what he doing, and everything else is gonna fall into place.”
Romania’s Simion, 36, has lost only a pair of 12-round unanimous decisions to former champions Lee Selby and Scott Quigg. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is scheduled to go 10 rounds for the first time in his brief pro career.
Moving forward, Crawford is confident Stevenson will become an elite featherweight, particularly once the skillful southpaw gains some physical strength.
“He get a little stronger and he’s gonna be a rude awakening for everybody,” said Crawford, who, like Stevenson, is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc. “Right now, he’s a young kid. He’s only 21. Once he grows in the division and get his little man strength, he’s gonna be the one.”
Beyond giving Stevenson advice about boxing and training, Crawford counseled the Newark, New Jersey, native after Stevenson was arrested July 1 for his alleged role in a brawl at a parking garage in Miami.
“I talked to him,” Crawford said. “We talked heart to heart. That’s for me and him to know, but I actually called him, talked to him and he got his head on straight, and now he’s back to working.”
Stevenson will fight Saturday night for the second time since he was charged with misdemeanor battery three months ago. He won an eight-round unanimous decision against Mexico’s Carlos Ruiz (16-5-2, 6 KOs) in his last fight, August 18 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.