Shakur Stevenson’s handlers have heard and read just about all they can stomach from Joet Gonzalez.
Josh Dubin, Stevenson’s attorney and co-manager, told BoxingScene.com that Gonzalez’s charge regarding Stevenson not wanting comprehensive Voluntary Anti-Doping Association testing for their upcoming featherweight title fight is “a flat-out lie.” Gonzalez told BoxingScene.com in an interview September 13 in Las Vegas that Stevenson’s team didn’t want VADA testing for their October 26 bout in Reno, Nevada (https://www.boxingscene.com/joet-gonzalez-shakur-stevenson-want-vada-testing--142718).
Dubin reiterated that Stevenson has been enrolled in VADA’s testing program since early in August. All boxers enrolled in VADA are subject to random blood and urine testing for performance-enhancing drugs.
Dubin also assured Gonzalez and his team that a defamation lawsuit against Gonzalez will be filed on Stevenson’s behalf if the undefeated contender doesn’t retract those statements and apologize to Stevenson before they fight for the vacant WBO 126-pound championship.
“Joet Gonzalez should spend more time preparing for the fight, because obviously he’s getting nervous,” said Dubin, who manages Stevenson along with Andre Ward and James Prince. “When people are nervous, they make things up. And I can tell you this, in no uncertain terms, the comments that he made about Shakur turning down VADA testing are a flat-out lie. First of all, he’s been enrolled in VADA since the beginning of August. Second of all, they never brought VADA testing up. And if they did, we would’ve told them that he’s already enrolled. The clear inference that he wants people to draw is that Shakur is on something, or that he turned down VADA testing. Whatever it was, I can tell you this, he’s gonna find himself the Sunday after the fight not only having had his ass kicked in the fight, but also being served with a lawsuit for defamation. Because that’s exactly what he did.
“He’s really barking up the wrong tree, and unless he gives a full retraction, we will take legal action against him because you don’t mess with someone’s livelihood like this. And that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s floating the notion out there that Shakur won’t submit to VADA testing because he’s afraid he’s gonna get caught on something? Is that what the implication is? Whatever it is – whether his promoter [Golden Boy] or manager [Frank Espinoza] or someone else told him this – he better get to the bottom of it on his side. But if we don’t hear an apology and a full retraction before the fight, then we are going to sue him for making it up.”
There was bad blood between Gonzalez and Stevenson long before Gonzalez made the aforementioned statements because Gonzalez’s younger sister, Jajaira, is Stevenson’s longtime girlfriend (https://www.boxingscene.com/joet-gonzalez-shakur-stevenson-not-good-enough-my-sister--142622).
“Shakur Stevenson is not just a client to me and Andre Ward and James Prince,” Dubin added. “He’s become part of our family, and we take very seriously anybody trying to put a stain on this young man’s legacy, a complete lie. And if [Gonzalez] does not think that this is serious, he’s gonna find out real quick that it is, that when you make things up and try to tarnish somebody’s reputation, that you’re gonna be held accountable for it in court. We completely plan to do that.
“And again, he might get served with a lawsuit before the fight happens and have to deal with it. But whatever he has to do to clear it up on his side, and whoever gave him this false information – and that’s giving him the benefit of the doubt by assuming he didn’t just make it up himself – he’s gonna find out real quick that he made up a lie about the wrong person.”
The 22-year-old Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs), of Newark, New Jersey, and the 25-year-old Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs), of Glendora, California, are rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, by the WBO. They’ll fight for the WBO featherweight title that Oscar Valdez vacated when he decided to move up to the junior lightweight division.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.