Shakur Stevenson remains befuddled as to why Frank Martin decided to pass up an opportunity that he says would have netted Martin a career high payday and title shot.

The skilled southpaw and two-division titlist from Newark, New Jersey, figures the prospect of losing had Martin paralyzed with the heebie-jeebies.

Earlier this month, Stevenson and Indianapolis' Martin narrowly avoided a purse bid for a lightweight title bout by coming to a financial agreement. But Martin then withdrew from the match-up entirely, a move that many have characterized as a “duck.” Stevenson is promoted by Top Rank, while Martin is promoted by TGB Promotions, which does business exclusively with Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions. Had the purse bid played out as scheduled, Stevenson would have been entitled to 60 percent of the winning bid, as he is the mandatory challenger for the title, while Martin would have received 40 percent; Martin is the No. 4-ranked fighter in the WBC’s lightweight rankings.

Last week, it was revealed that Stevenson would be fighting Edwin De Los Santos on Nov. 16 in Las Vegas for the vacant WBC 135-pound title. Stevenson has insisted that Martin wanted a 50-50 purse split; Martin, who has been mostly quiet on social media, denied that that was the case.

Asked to theorize why Martin pulled out of the fight after agreeing to it, Stevenson speculated that Martin simply had a case of stage fright.

“I think Frank Martin got cold feet,” Stevenson told Brian Custer on The Last Stand Podcast. “I think before the fight was signed, it sounded good, everything sounded good, but once the fight came to fruition, I feel he got real nervous and didn’t want to fight me no more. I think he got real nervous.”

Stevenson (20-0, 10 KOs) claimed that by forfeiting his participation in what many were calling one of the best fights in the 135-pound division, Martin (18-0, 12 KOs) was in effect scuttling a payday that would have garnered him four times more than his previous highest paycheck.

“His excuse and his reasoning, he’ll tell you that it wasn’t enough money,” Stevenson said. “But truthfully speaking, it was quadruple more than what he’s made his entire career. The numbers he done made the highest was $250,000. That fight he would’ve fought for the world title and he would’ve fought for a million dollars. So, $250,000 four times gives you a million dollars and that would’ve been the most money he would’ve ever made in his career.”  

Stevenson maintains that Martin simply could not come to terms with the distinct possibility of suffering a loss.

“I don’t think fighters want to lose,” Stevenson continued. “I think deep down inside he know that I’m one of the best fighters in boxing and like I said, I don’t think he wanted to lose. I think when it came down to it, if he was going to take an L, he wanna make 10 times more than he ever made in his career. I guess four times is not enough.”

“I’m a fighter,” Stevenson added. “I would never turn down quadruple more than I ever made in my entire career for a world title. I would never, never do that.”

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing