Shakur Stevenson will see some very familiar faces when he looks across the ring the night of October 23 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.
Stevenson considers Jamel Herring more of an acquaintance than a friend, but Herring’s challenger is admittedly close with Herring’s handlers. Herring’s trainers, Brian McIntyre and Jacqui “Red” Spikes, also work with Terence Crawford, who has mentored Stevenson since the 2016 Olympic silver medalist turned pro 4½ years ago.
Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) usually trains in Colorado Springs, often alongside Crawford, the unbeaten WBO welterweight champion. He’ll train for the Herring fight in Las Vegas in part because Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) will prepare for this mandated defense of his WBO junior lightweight title in Colorado Springs.
Herring’s trainers couldn’t be more familiar with Stevenson, who is trained by his grandfather, Wali Moses, and Kay Koroma. The 24-year-old Stevenson doesn’t view their familiarity with him as a significant disadvantage because the undefeated former WBO featherweight champion is confident that he operates on a higher level than the 35-year-old Herring.
“He’s with a good team,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I’m expecting him to come in in as good a shape as possible. I’m expecting him to have an awkward style. I’m expecting him to give me a tough challenge, but at the end of the day I feel like I’m better than him and I know more than him. I feel like that’s all gonna come into play. I feel like I’m younger, faster, and I think all that’s gonna play a part. I know it ain’t gonna be easy going against Bo-Mac and Red. And I know they gonna prepare they guy, and he gonna come in a hundred percent, the best shape of his career.
“But at the end of the day, they can’t fight for him. They can’t get in the ring and fight for him. They been across from me in the gym, and it don’t matter who it is, I’m still gonna be myself and I’m still gonna dominate. So, that don’t really play too much of a part to me, either.”
Stevenson called Herring’s style “weird.” The Newark, New Jersey, native wasn’t overly impressed, either, by the 2012 U.S. Olympian’s dominant performance against two-division world champion Carl Frampton in his most recent bout.
Herring floored Frampton twice, once apiece in the fifth and sixth rounds, en route to a sixth-round stoppage April 3 at Caesars Bluewaters Dubai. That devastating defeat prompted Frampton’s retirement, but Stevenson still has more respect for Herring’s trainers than Herring himself.
“That’s his best attribute,” Stevenson said. “That’s the best thing he’s bringing into the ring October 23rd. Not his team’s familiarity with me – his team in general. He’s got a good team. But like I said, them being familiar with me don’t play a part for me, either. Because it’s like if Terence Crawford go fight Maurice Hooker, for example, and they’re coaching Maurice Hooker for the fight, against Terence Crawford, nine times out of 10 we’re gonna see Terence beat up Maurice Hooker, even with them in [Hooker’s] corner. So like, at the end of the day, I feel like it got a lot to do with how good the fighter is. You can help him so much, but you can’t fight for him.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.