Shakur Stevenson: ‘I’m really focused on putting in the work on Friday night’

Shakur Stevenson is two days away from the ultimate homecoming. The WBC/WBO/Ring Magazine junior lightweight king will defend his belts Friday evening against Robson Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs) at Prudential Center. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is a Newark native who is fighting at home as a world champion for the first time.

Before Stevenson and Conceição took the mic, the Mayor’s Office of the City of Newark presented Stevenson (18-0, 9 KOs) with a proclamation declaring September 21, 2022, as Shakur Stevenson Day in the city. That was followed up by special plaque from Quitman Street School students, Stevenson attended Quitman Street for elementary school, and the building sits less than a mile from Prudential Center.

In the eight-round lightweight co-feature, U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis (5-0, 4 KOs) steps up in class against Omar Tienda (25-5, 18 KOs).

At Wednesday’s press conference, this is what the fighters had to say.

Shakur Stevenson

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“Honestly, I’m just ready to fight. I’m not really focused on the pressure. I don’t care about all that. I’m really focused on putting in the work on Friday night. I’m just ready to fight at the end of the day. All I can think about is fighting and performing. That’s everything that’s on my mind.”

“He’s a good fighter. But I think he lost against Valdez. If you left it in the judges’ hands, then you lost. I fought Valdez, and I beat the s*** out of him. I don’t have any excuses. He’s talking about having COVID or something before his last fight. All I hear are excuses. I’m ready to fight. Tell him to not have any excuses on Friday night. I’m ready to beat him up.”

“I never leave it in the hands of the judges. I go in there and take everything that I want.”

Robson Conceição

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“It was very touching for me to be welcomed by my community here. Yes, I understand that Shakur is a native, but I also feel right at home here.”

“I’m very motivated. I’ve trained all my life for this moment. The world was able to see that I was better than Oscar Valdez. I should have won. So, he’s not really defending two titles because one should have been mine. I’m a champion without a crown, and I’m ready for Friday night.”

“Shakur is someone that I really respect. He’s a great athlete. I can tell that he’s young, probably overly excited and speaks a little too much. This coming Friday, there will only be one champ, and that champ is me.”

Keyshawn Davis

 (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“Keyshawn is going to be Keyshawn and he’s going to have fun in there. The talent that Shakur and I have is extraordinary. We both get to show our talent back to back. Just like I said last time in Las Vegas when I fought alongside him, the fans are going to be the winners at the end of the night. And that’s definitely what happened. We’re definitely looking forward to just giving the fans what they came out and paid for.”

“Is he my toughest opponent yet? I don’t know. I’m going to wait and see. I’m hoping that it’s a great fight for me so that I can keep learning and developing. I’m more than prepared for this fight both mentally and physically.”

Omar Tienda

“I’m happy to be in the co-feature of an event of his caliber. I’m excited and happy to be able to come here and do my job. What do we bring that may be different? Well, obviously experience, hard work and strength. We will also bring big surprises for the entire night.”

“You all know why I have ‘The Heroe’ as my nickname. I worked 13 years in emergency rescue, doing different kinds of rescues internationally. Not only in 2008, but in 2010, 2014 and the last one in 2016. They have been very important rescues in which lives are at risk, where we know that we have to go in there and work and where we don’t know if we’ll be returning to see our families.”

“So, for me, this is about working, enjoyment and happiness. We’ve come to score the upset and the name of ‘The Heroe’ will ring once more.”

Bruce Carrington

“Being on Top Rank boxing is the best move that I’ve ever made. I’m happy to be a part of this team. The sky is the limit, and I’m ready to continue proving myself. I just want to step into the ring and showcase my talent so that everybody can see what I’m capable of doing. Top Rank is the place to be for you to be able to showcase that.”

Jahi Tucker

“I just want to thank God for the opportunity to be here. This is a testament to all the hard work we’ve done, and this Friday we’re going to show all the hard work. This means the world to me.”

Keyshawn Davis to battle Omar Tienda on Stevenson-Conceição card

Norfolk’s Olympic silver medal star, Keyshawn Davis, now has an opponent for his long-awaited ring return. Davis, who shined for Team USA last summer in Tokyo, will fight Mexican veteran Omar Tienda in an eight-round lightweight showdown Friday, Sept. 23, at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Davis-Tienda will be the co-feature to WBC/WBO junior lightweight world champion Shakur Stevenson’s hometown title defense against Brazilian Olympic gold medalist Robson Conceição.

Stevenson-Conceição and Davis-Tienda will be broadcast live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

The undercard — streaming live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT— features an eight-round junior lightweight bout between unbeaten prospect Henry “Moncho” Lebron and Andy “El Tiburon” Vences.

Davis (5-0, 4 KOs) is back following April’s sixth-round TKO over Esteban Sanchez on the Oscar Valdez-Stevenson card. His proposed July bout against Jair Valtierra was postponed, but with a clean bill of health, Davis seeks to make waves once again before Stevenson takes center stage. Tienda (25-5, 18 KOs), from Guadalupe, Mexico, has won seven straight fights — all by knockout — since a 2017 decision loss to Dennis Galarza. His only stoppage defeat came in his seventh pro fight back in 2013.

Lebron (16-0, 10 KOs), from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, ranks among his island nation’s top prospects, but he’s looking to notch a signature victory. In his last outing, he won a clear eight-round unanimous decision over Luis Lebron (no relation). Vences (23-3-1, 12 KOs) is a 10-year pro from San Jose, California, who has battled a slew of top-rated fighters. His July 2020 split decision defeat to Luis Alberto Lopez — now the IBF No. 1 featherweight contender — ranked among the year’s best action fights. He makes his comeback little more than one year removed from a majority decision loss to former world title challenger Jono Carroll.

In other undercard action, Shakur Stevenson protégé Antoine Cobb (1-0-1, 1 KO) will fight an immediate rematch against Jaylan Phillips (1-2-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder at welterweight. Cobb and Phillips fought to a crowd-pleasing draw April 30 on the Valdez-Stevenson undercard.

The undercard is also scheduled to include the following bouts:

Jahi Tucker (8-0, 5 KOs) vs. Jose Luis Sanchez (11-2-1, 4 KOs), 8 rounds, welterweight
 
Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington (4-0, 3 KOs) vs. Jose Argel (9-4, 3 KOs), 6 rounds, featherweight
 
Armani Almestica (6-0, 6 KOs) vs. Omar Urieta (3-1-1, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, lightweight
 
Pablo Valdez (6-0, 5 KOs) vs. Noe Alejandro Lopez (11-5-1, 4 KOs), 6 rounds, welterweight
 
Orlando Gonzalez (18-1, 11 KOs) vs. Misael Lopez (13-1, 5 KOs), 8 rounds, featherweight
 
Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz (6-0, 2 KOs) vs. Eduardo Diogo (3-0, 2 KOs), 6 rounds, junior featherweight

Photo/courtesy: Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images)

Shakur Stevenson is coming home!

Newark native and unified 130-pound champion(WBC/WBO) Shakur Stevenson is going home, but this time, he’s a champion. He will defend his titles on September 23 against Robson Conceição at Prudential Center in Newark.

The 25-year-old last fought at the Prudential Center in 2019 when he stopped Alberto Guevara.

The homecoming festivities kicked off Monday with a press conference at Prudential Center, and Stevenson was treated to a local hero’s welcome. Special guests included Seton Hall Men’s Basketball Coach Shaheen Holloway, Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton, and Ras Baraka, Mayor of Newark.

Stevenson-Conceição and the return of lightweight U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis will be broadcast on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Undercard action will stream on ESPN+ and includes welterweight Jahi Tucker, featherweight Bruce “Shu Shu” Carrington, and junior bantamweight Floyd “Cashflow” Diaz.

Here is what the fighters had to say at the press conference.

Shakur Stevenson:

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images) 

“For all the kids, you’ve got to keep trying to be great. Keep striving to be better. I want to be an example for you all. I want to make sure that I do my part. I’m going to come in shape and ready to fight on September 23. I’m going to put on a show for the kids, and for the city of Newark. I want to give you all a hell of a performance. I’m going to do my part, and I’m going to come in shape. I appreciate the support. I’m locked in, and September 23, I’m going to put on a show.”

Keyshawn Davis

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“I feel like Top Rank has the best prospects in the game. This is definitely one of the cards to watch. I feel like this is going to be another ‘Oscar Valdez’ type of a night. I feel like this is going to be another Shakur Stevenson vs. Jamel Herring fight. I feel like fight is going to be about six rounds right here. But not only the main event. I feel like the undercard is going to put on a spectacular performance, too. I don’t really see any of us going the entire rounds because I feel like we should be getting stoppage that night. As for me, the business man is going to do what he do. I’ve been putting on great performances ever since ya’ll been seeing me fight.”

Bruce Carrington

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“I know you will all be in the building on September 23. You know I’m bringing my people on September 23. We’re going to put on a show. A big shout out to all the boxers here. Floyd ‘Cashflow’ Diaz is in the building. ‘Flashy’ Keyshawn Davis is in the building. We’ve got Jahi Tucker. He’s in the building. And then you’ve got the man himself, Shakur Stevenson from Newark, New Jersey. He’s going to put on a show. And you know me as well, I’m going to put on a show, too. I’ll see you on September 23.”

Jahi Tucker

(Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

“On September 23, I’ll have a good performance for you all. It’s my first time fighting in Jersey. I’m going to make it a memorable one. Shakur is a great fighter. This is his hometown, so I’ve got to come strong. I’m going to be here September 23, and I’ll see you all.”

Floyd Diaz

“I just want to make sure I put on a show for everybody. I want to show everybody that I’m scary at 122. And it is what it is. On September 23, me and my guys are going to put on a show. We’re here to take over.”

Keyshawn Davis to battle Esteban Sánchez on Valdez-Stevenson undercard

 Lightweight Keyshawn Davis, the 23-year-old Olympic silver medal superstar from Norfolk, Virginia, is coming to Las Vegas on Pro Football Draft weekend to show why he should be the boxing world’s top draft pick. Davis will battle Mexican veteran Esteban Sánchez in an eight-rounder Saturday, April 30 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
 
Davis-Sanchez will be the co-feature to the junior lightweight title unification showdown between WBC champion Oscar Valdez and WBO king Shakur Stevenson.
 
Valdez-Stevenson and Davis-Sánchez will be televised live on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT. Undercard bouts will be announced shortly.
 
“Keyshawn Davis was the most sought-after free agent coming out of the Tokyo Olympics, and he is among the sport’s most gifted fighters,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “The main event features two of the world’s best fighters in Valdez and Stevenson, and I have little doubt that Keyshawn is on his way to becoming a pound-for-pound great.”
 
Davis said, “Fighting in Las Vegas at MGM Grand on Pro Football Draft weekend… I was born for this stage. I am going to put on another flawless performance and then watch from ringside as my brother, Shakur, puts on a show as well. The stars will be out, and they are going to see something special.”
 
Davis (4-0, 3 KOs) was supposed to fight Sanchez on March 19 in New York, but he contracted a non-COVID-related virus. He knocked out Jose Zaragoza in two brutal rounds in his Top Rank on ESPN debut last December. Davis made an impression against Zaragoza, folding his overmatched foe with a left hook to the body. His slightly delayed return comes against Sánchez (18-1, 8 KOs) a native of Ensenada, Mexico, who won a pair of fights in 2021 following his only career loss.

Berlanga-Rolls, Zaya-LaVallais, Davis-Sanchez set for 3/19 at MSG

Three future fistic superstars are set to unite under the Madison Square Garden spotlight.

Brooklyn-born super middleweight sensation Edgar “The Chosen One” Berlanga will defend his NABO belt against crafty Canadian Steve Rolls in the 10-round main event Saturday, March 19 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Berlanga, whose family hails from San Juan, Puerto Rico, makes his main event debut in his stiffest test to date.

In the junior middleweight co-feature, 19-year-old Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas will fight in his first scheduled eight-rounder against Louisiana-born spoiler Quincy “Chico” LaVallais.

The eight-round televised opener will see the return of lightweight U.S. Olympic silver medalist Keyshawn Davis against Mexican veteran Esteban Sanchez.

Berlanga-Rolls, Zayas-LaVallais and Davis-Sanchez will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT.

“Edgar, Xander and Keyshawn are future pound-for-pound superstars, and it will be a special evening in front of a sold-out New York City crowd,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum. “All three are in there with the toughest fights of their respective careers, but I expect them to pass with flying colors.”

Berlanga (18-0, 16 KOs) took the boxing world by storm with 16 straight first-round knockouts to open his pro career. He went the distance twice in 2021, opening his campaign in April by knocking down Demond Nicholson four times in eight rounds in an ESPN-televised rout. Berlanga returned on the Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder III card in October, defeating Marcelo Esteban Coceres via 10-round unanimous decision despite suffering a torn biceps in the third round and the first knockdown of his career in the ninth.

Berlanga said, “I’m so excited to fight in my first main event in my hometown. It’s a dream come true for a fighter representing New York City and Puerto Rico. I can’t wait to show the world what I’m truly about. We are going to blow the roof off the Hulu Theater, so grab your tickets early and get your popcorn ready for this performance.”

Rolls (21-1, 12 KOs), a 37-year-old from Toronto, is an 11-year pro who was an undefeated middleweight contender before moving up in weight. In June 2019, he challenged pound-for-pound stalwart Gennadiy Golovkin at Madison Square Garden and found some success in the second round before being stopped in the fourth. Rolls has tallied two wins since the Golovkin bout, most recently knocking out Christopher Brooker in the ninth round last month on the Artur Beterbiev-Marcus Browne undercard in Montreal.

Rolls said, “I’m happy to be back headlining at Madison Square Garden. Training camp has been going well, and I feel very strong with nothing but war on my mind. Berlanga has power, but I’ll be ready for whatever he brings. I’m looking forward to March 19. I’ll see you then.”

Zayas (12-0, 9 KOs) had a breakthrough 2021, going 6-0 with four knockouts while being mentioned prominently in Prospect of the Year debates. He made his Madison Square Garden debut last December and finished his 2021 campaign by knocking out Alessio Mastronunzio in the first round. He steps up against LaVallais (12-2-1, 7 KOs), who notched a December 2020 upset over Clay Collard at the MGM Grand Bubble. LaVallais, who is 2-2 since the Collard victory, has never been knocked out.

Zayas said, “It’s an honor to fight again at Madison Square Garden, where I know my Puerto Rican people will come out to show their support. 2021 was a great year, but I’m looking forward to an even bigger 2022. Quincy LaVallais is a solid veteran, so I can’t overlook him. I want to make a major statement on March 19.”

Davis (4-0, 3 KOs), from Norfolk, Virginia, won three bouts in the first five months of 2021 before journeying to Tokyo and earning a silver medal. He then signed a long-term promotional contract with Top Rank and improved to 4-0 with a second-round stoppage over Jose Zaragoza on December 11. Davis makes his 2022 debut against Sanchez (18-1, 8 KOs), a 23-year-old from Ensenada, Mexico, who has won two straight bouts and will be making his American debut.

Davis said, “I put on a show at Madison Square Garden in December, and I’m going to do it again. Esteban Sanchez is supposed to be my hardest fight as a pro, but it’s going to be easy work. The Davis Brothers are coming to represent Norfolk and leave no doubt that we are the future of boxing.”

Undercard action will stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ and is scheduled to include a host of undefeated talents, including Puerto Rican junior welterweight John “El Terrible” Bauza (16-0, 7 KOs) in an eight-rounder, welterweight and Berlanga’s New York City stablemate Pablo “Pretty Boy” Valdez (6-0, 5 KOs) in a six-round attraction, Puerto Rican junior lightweight Henry “Moncho” Lebron (14-0, 9 KOs) in an eight-rounder, and a four-rounder featuring junior welterweight Kelvin Davis (3-0, 2 KOs).

Nico Ali Walsh-Reyes Sanchez, Keyshawn Davis-Jose Zaragoza added to Loma-Commey undercard

Keyshawn Davis, the lightweight star who earned a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics, has a golden chance to shine on one of boxing’s biggest platforms. Davis (3-0, 2 KOs), in his first fight since signing a long-term deal with Top Rank, will face Mexican veteran Jose Zaragoza (8-3-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout Saturday, Dec. 11 on the undercard of the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Richard Commey lightweight main event.

Middleweight prospect Nico Ali Walsh (2-0, 2 KOs), grandson of “The Greatest,” Muhammad Ali, will fight fellow unbeaten Reyes Sanchez (6-0, 2 KOs) in the four-round televised opener.

Lomachenko-Commey, an eight-round heavyweight showdown between Jared Anderson and Oleksandr Teslenko, Davis-Zaragoza and Ali Walsh-Reyes will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (simulcast on ESPN+) at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT following the 2021 Heisman Trophy Ceremony.

Davis, one of boxing’s most sought-after promotional free agents, signed a long-term contract with Top Rank last month. His notoriety soared following the Tokyo Olympics, a run that included a knockout win over France’s Sofiane Oumiha and a close loss to Cuban legend Andy Cruz in the gold medal match. Zaragoza has won three straight fights and has never been knocked out as a pro.

The full undercard will stream live on ESPN+ at 5:30 p.m. ET/2:30 p.m. PT and is scheduled to include the following bouts:

  • Xander Zayas (11-0, 8 KOs), the rising Puerto Rican star and frontrunner for 2021 Prospect of the Year, will fight Italy’s Alessio Mastronunzio (9-1, 3 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight clash. Zayas is 5-0 with three knockouts in 2021, including a fourth-round drubbing of Dan Karpency in October on the Shakur Stevenson-Jamel Herring undercard. Mastronunzio, who is making his American debut, is 4-0 in 2021.

  • Undefeated welterweight Pablo “Pretty Boy” Valdez (5-0, 4 KOs), the popular New York City ticket-seller from the Lower East Side, is scheduled to fight Julio Cesar Sanchez (11-3, 6 KOs) in a six-rounder. Valdez fought Oct. 30 at Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, outlasting Alejandro Martinez in a toe-to-toe crowd-pleaser.

  • Kelvin Davis (2-0, 1 KO), the older brother of Keyshawn Davis, will clash with Bryan Emmanuel Ramirez (1-1-1, 1 KO) in a four-rounder at welterweight. Kelvin Davis also signed with Top Rank last month.

  • In an eight-round battle of unbeaten junior welterweights, John “El Terrible” Bauza (15-0, 6 KOs) will face Michael “Boy Wonder” Williams Jr. (19-0, 12 KOs). Bauza is coming off June’s second-round blitzing of Christon Edwards, while Williams seeks to tally his sixth victory of 2021.

  • Staten Island-born featherweight prospect James “Crunch Time” Wilkins (9-2, 6 KOs) hopes to thrill the home city fans in an eight-rounder against Texas native Juan Tapia (10-3, 3 KOs). Wilkins, who was homeless on the streets of Staten Island early in his pro career, makes his Madison Square Garden debut with hopes of graduating to contender status.

  • Former Irish amateur superstar “Mighty” Joe Ward (5-1, 2 KOs) looks to make it six wins in a row against Britton Norwood (10-3-1, 7 KOs) in a six-round light heavyweight tilt. Ward suffered a freak knee injury in his October 2019 pro debut against Marco Delgado and lost via second-round TKO. He avenged the loss with a one-sided decision over Delgado in March. As an amateur, Ward was a three-time European Championships gold medalist, a three-time World Championships medalist, and a 2016 Olympian.