As he rose up the ranks, the knock on Shakur Stevenson was that he fought with no urgency, brought little fire to his game, and coasted entirely on the weight of his prodigious skill and raw talent.
Recently, though, the 25-year-old has changed all that around, lighting a fire within himself and barking loud enough to be heard on social media.
Back-to-back fiery super featherweight victories over Jamel Herring and Oscar Valdez in 2021-2022 were eye-openers and served as breakthrough performance for a fighter clearly intent on attaining next-level stardom. His recent move up to lightweight, where a bevy of high-end talent currently competes, could provide a boost to superstardom for the undefeated two-division former world champ.
That is, of course, if he can manage to get the big fights he needs and wants.
Stevenson recently took to social media to blast the fighters who claim to be all about the smoke, but who refuse to commit to facing him.
“I turn pits into poodles,” Stevenson tweeted, in reference to Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz whose team seems reluctant to entertain the idea of a Stevenson bout, despite one recently being mandated by the WBC. “Lil puppy, are you ready to go for a walk? Let’s take this puppy for a little walk.
“If the Lil puppy doesn’t want to fight, let’s get who is next in line, isn’t it William Zepeda or [George] Kambosas don’t matter I’m ready to smoke sum regardless.
“All the fighters talk big on instagram but real life they denying these fights.”
When the subject of Edwin De Los Santos (who recently upset prospect Jose Valenzuela) was brought up, Stevenson was even more dismissive.
“I would smoke that bum but I’m next in line for Devin and Loma and he ranked #11,” the young fighter asserted. “the dudes I want to fight are #2 and #4 I have to fight one of them to get my tittle shot tell that bum keep working his way up so I could be lined up to ice that Mf.”
The southpaw talent would also spark up an Instagram Live video where he continued to bash his potential rivals as well as build up his own prominence.
“Sugar Ray Leonard and all of them dudes was 25, 24 fighting each other,” Stevenson said. “If I’m willing to make these fights happen and these dude’s not, y’all right to call them ducks…I’m not ducking no smoke…I’m not saying no to no fights.
“Show me you’re a killer. I want to see how much of a killer you is, ‘Pitbull’…Zepeda, he’s slow as a motherf**ker…I don’t know why they think he’s a killer.”
“They ain’t going to like this version of me,” Stevenson continued.
The emerging superstar then turned positive, giving young fighters a word or two of advice.
“Young fighters, don’t believe everything that’s going on on social media,” he said. “Don’t let these other boxers influence y’all…stay in the gym, stay ready, stay in shape year round. You gotta always be in shape…A lot of these dudes they start making money and you only see them in the gym whenever it’s a fight date coming up.”
“Make boxing your life,” he advised. “If you believe in yourself and believe in your talent this sh*t can change your life forever. All you have to do is apply yourself…”
Although he just announced his intention to compete in the lightweight division, Stevenson is already highly ranked by all four sanctioning bodies. Ranked no. 2 by the WBO, no. 3 by the WBC, and no. 5 by the IBF and WBA, the former champ, who lost the WBO and WBC super featherweight titles on the scales facing Robson Conceicao in September, is close to a grab at a world title in his new weight class.