Shakur Stevenson is a future pound-for-pound stalwart.

It’s been repeated enough by now, especially on ESPN, that it must be true. 


It just might be but the old saying is the proof is in the pudding. This is a recipe that hasn’t quite congealed just yet. The 2016 US Olympic silver medalist is certainly off to a good start. The 24-year old Stevenson (16-0, 8 KO) already has an alphabet belt on his shelf from the featherweight division and will aim for his second this Saturday (10:30 PM EST).

A veteran titlist who still fights like he has something to prove is in Stevenson’s way. 

In the aftermath of the 2012 Olympics, the opinion from this corner about the professional potential of current WBO 130 lb. titlist Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KO) is that he was a long shot to make big noise as a professional. The thinking went that Herring, “exited the games with a loss that wasn’t competitive...Herring didn’t leave much room to wonder if he can grow beyond his defeat. Already 26, Herring indicated he would choose between his career as a U.S. Marine and a boxing career.  His measure as a man is already proven in the former.  His measure in fistiana doesn’t have long to be considered.”

Over the last decade, an Olympic team that failed to medal on the men’s side for the first time in Olympic history has found their fair share of professional accomplishment. Errol Spence looked like their blue chipper and proved to be at welterweight but he’s not been their only champion. Jose Ramirez went on to unify some belts at Jr. welterweight, Joseph Diaz and Rau’shee Warren have both won titles, Michael Hunter is solidly in the heavyweight top ten, and Marcus Browne appears on the verge of challenging for the lineal light heavyweight crown after previously winning one of the WBA’s sub-titles along the way.

Herring contacted after that 2012 prognosis was published to say he’d prove it wrong. The reply, paraphrased, was a hope that he would. 

Herring did.    

It didn’t look like he would early on. Turned professional at lightweight, Herring suffered losses in his sixteenth and eighteenth starts, stopped in the first of those defeats by the tough Denis Shafikov. Herring bit down, dropped a weight class, and four fights later won his belt at Jr. lightweight. Against Stevenson, Herring will attempt his fourth defense of that title. 

It was Herring’s third defense, the last time the world saw him in the ring, that put some muscle on his reign. Showing the best form of his career under his biggest spotlight to date, Herring dropped former Jr. featherweight and featherweight titlist Carl Frampton twice en route to a sixth round stoppage win. Frampton announced his retirement in the ring. Herring moved on to more big lights.

Herring isn’t expected to win this weekend. In terms of betting odds, Stevenson is a long favorite. It doesn’t mean Herring won’t win.

Herring is taller, longer, and more physically mature at 35 than the 24 year old Stevenson. Stevenson’s credentials as a pro are solid so far, and got a bump last weekend. Previous Stevenson foe Joet Gonzalez may have lost to Emanuel Navarrete, but the way Gonzalez lost said a lot about how tough an out he is. Stevenson lost only one round to Gonzalez on the official cards for their fight.

It’s still only a sample of what Stevenson can do. While television graphics might be able to find statistical comparisons to a young Floyd Mayweather, Stevenson is nowhere near as far along in terms of opposition quality as he nears the start of his fifth year as a pro. Herring is a step in the right direction on paper. 

The long term designs are clear. 

Herring, who came into the pro game looking to prove doubters wrong, can make it the wrong step and prove the odds wrong again.  

Cliff’s Notes…

Mikey Garcia isn’t a welterweight. That’s been clear. For the moment, it’s not clear he is still a real contender at any weight class. Even top talents have off nights and that might be what happened against Sandor Martin last weekend but, at 33, Garcia is going to be under a microscope from here...Teofimo Lopez-George Kambosos has a date and the fight will absolutely, positively happen in November. Right? Even Murphy’s Law has to run out of invocations at some point...Jonathan Gonzalez winning a belt was a fun story last weekend...The WBA seems to be serious about cleaning up the mess they made of their title picture over the last two decades and Yordenis Ugas isn’t happy about it...The remainder of the 2021 boxing calendar is absurdly loaded. It’s a nice recovery from a summer of frustrations if everything holds together.

Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America.