RENO, Nevada – Shakur Stevenson is embarrassed.
Watching Robeisy Ramirez suffer an upset defeat in his pro debut 2½ months ago made Stevenson feel even worse about losing to Ramirez at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Stevenson had hoped that once Ramirez signed with his promoter, Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., that he’d eventually receive an opportunity to avenge his emotional loss in their Olympic gold medal match.
That plan imploded when Cuba’s Ramirez lost a split decision to Adan Gonzales in his first professional fight August 10 in Philadelphia. Denver’s Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) won their four-rounder comfortably according to two of the three judges (40-35, 39-36, 37-38).
“Man, I ain’t gonna lie,” Stevenson told BoxingScene.com. “I was so salty when I seen that. I was hurt. Honestly, I was really embarrassed. I was embarrassed watching that. I was like, ‘Damn, this dude beat me. How’d I let this dude take my dreams away from me?’ I don’t know. I was embarrassed.”
Ramirez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, edged Stevenson, 2-1, in their bantamweight final at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stevenson sobbed during a memorable post-fight interview that went viral. The Newark, New Jersey, native admits that losing his last amateur match motivated him immensely over the past three years.
In just his 13th professional fight, Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs) is set to face Joet Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs), of Glendora, California, for the unclaimed WBO featherweight title Saturday night at Reno-Sparks Convention Center (ESPN+; 10 p.m. EDT/7 p.m. PDT). Whatever happens against Gonzalez, Stevenson isn’t certain fighting Ramirez remains a possibility.
“I don’t know if we’re gonna fight,” Stevenson said. “I would definitely like to fight him still, but he got a lot going on that he gotta figure out because nobody just comes and loses their pro debut. That’s not something that’s normal, especially against the caliber of fighter that he fought. I sparred that dude [Gonzales] before. That was real easy. I don’t even think he lasted. If I’m remembering correctly, I don’t think he lasted three or four rounds. I think they took him out.”
Stevenson’s personal experiences with Gonzales and Ramirez made their outcome even more difficult for him to figure out.
“I just don’t know how he lost to that dude,” said Stevenson, who agreed with the two judges that scored their fight for Gonzales. “[Ramirez] was in a tight shell guard the whole time. You can’t win fights like that.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was in shock. I watched it and I was like, ‘Man.’ And then everybody talking about me versus him. That was like the deal, though, like he beat Shakur and look where Shakur at right now. And he about to be one of the best Cuban fighters, but he got in there and lost. I don’t understand what happened.”
Stevenson suspects Ramirez’s move from Cuba to South Florida might’ve made the 25-year-old Olympic star become complacent.
“You’ve gotta realize, too, the Cubans, they have a program there where people are just on them constantly,” Stevenson said. “They go by a different way of living in Cuba. They don’t really got no choice but to be focused. I don’t know how focused he was for this fight. Or did he train? Or how good did he train? I don’t know.
“But I just think that in Cuba they make you train. They’re real strict about everything they do there. And you live boxing over there. You non-stop live boxing. That’s how it is over there. And I just feel like maybe he came over here, he got a new coach, he going by a new system. He can do whatever he wants. And he already looks like he a lazy type of person. Like he need a coach on him non-stop. So, I think that’s probably what happened.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.