Rewind: It’s Tuesday, late morning and you’re 19-year-old Shakur Stevenson, a USA Team boxer from Newark, New Jersey, getting ready to step into the ring first at the Riocentro Pavilion 6. But what’s that you see, the great Floyd Mayweather, Jr. is in the audience and he’s cheering for you?
If you’re Stevenson, you tell yourself, ‘You must stay focused! My Mongolian opponent is aggressive and wild to start. He’s trying to impose his will on me. I’ve got to get settled in and begin to land my long shots from the outside. Uh, oh, the Mongolian representative has closed the round with great work to the body to take the first round. In the second round, I’ll use my movement and footwork to turn this thing around. I’ll set up my own shots.’ By the end of the third round, Stevenson’s efforts had given him a two-round lead. In the final round, Stevenson went back to the body to secure his second straight unanimous decision victory.
“As soon as I came out of the hall, I saw him (Floyd Mayweather Jr.) right there leaning over the balcony yelling,” said Stevenson in regards to spotting his hero. “His presence certainly caught my attention. When I came out and saw him, I got excited plus a little nervous.” Mayweather was vocal throughout the bout and I paid attention to his instructions. “I heard him a lot,” said Stevenson. “He’s been in the same situation and he’s mastered boxing, so of course, I had to listen whenever I heard him talking.”
With two wins under his belt and a medal secured, Stevenson felt they still haven’t seen the best of me. “I felt like I needed to close the show. In the next fight, I’m going to try to make sure my third round is just as good as my first. I’ve gotta stay focused and get what I came here for, the gold medal.” said Stevenson.
In the light welterweight division, Gary Antuanne Russell (Capitol Heights, Md.) thought he had put on a clinic in his quarterfinal match with Uzbekistan’s Fazliddin Gaibnazarov but the judges saw it differently.
“It was a B- performance,” said Russell later. “It was better than yesterday but I have to close out the show a little bit better. In the third round, I need to finish it off. Put the icing on the cake. My grandfather taught me that boxing is the art of hitting and not being hit, so I’ve been doing it ever since I was a little kid and I’m going to keep doing it. He (my opponent) felt my power. I know he felt my power. In the third round, I’m thinking maybe he’s going to quit but he was still throwing some wild, loopy shots trying to get the knockout. He hit me probably once or twice but I kept to the game plan and did what I was supposed to do.”
Russell showcased his exceptional hand speed and ring generalship early in the bout as the boxer from Uzbekistan moved around the ring and looked to hold. Russell turned up the heat in the second, stalking Fazliddin Gaibnazarov and unloading combinations. As the two engaged early and often, Russell began to fall behind. In the third round, Russell came out firing with several thundering blows. He managed to connect with some hard shots and the fight concluded with Russell knocking Gaibnazarov to his knees at the final bell. Despite his efforts, Russell ended up losing by a split decision to be eliminated from the tournament.
U.S. Result for Tuesday, August 16, 2015
123 lbs./56 kg: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N. J./USA 3-0 decision victory over Tsendbaatar Erdenebat, Mongolia.
141 lbs./64 kg: Fazliddin Gaibnazarov, Uzbekistan, 2-1, split decision victory over Gary Antunne Russell, Capitol Heights, Maryland, USA
Also on the fight card, Brazilian Robson Conceicao won the gold medal by way of a unanimous decision over France’s Sofiane Oumiha in the men’s lightweight/60 kg division in front of the home crowd. Conceicao had absolutely no trouble defeating Oumiha who in retrospect enjoyed an easier schedule leading up to the finals.
Bouts scheduled for Wednesday, August 17, 2016
2012 Olympic gold medalist in the women’s middleweight division Claressa Shields (Flint, Mich.) will make her long-awaited 2016 Olympic debut on at 2:30 p.m. Brazil time (10:30 p.m. PCT) against the tough Iaroslava Iaukushina from Russia.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
With several boxers complaining about the controversial decisions during the Olympic Games, Shakur Stevenson was one of those who felt Michael Conlan had been robbed on Tuesday in his quarterfinals match versus Vladimir Nikitin of Russia. On Thursday, instead of facing Conlan, the current world champion, Stevenson will be facing Nikitin. Mr. Conlan did not leave the boxing ring without making his thoughts known. Conlan launched into this expletive-filled rant and had his fingers pointed skyward to let the judges know his true feelings after their decision which he thought was highway robbery. Later in an email to a certain Russian leader by the name of Vladimir Putkin, Conlan tweeted his disgust: “Hey Vlad..How much did they charge you bro??’”
Stevenson agreed: “I felt Conlan won his fight, honestly, but now we have to focus on the Russian.”
With controversial decisions ending runs in the Olympics, Stevenson says he’s got added reason to dominate in the semifinal bout. “I guess I gotta make it clear,” he said. “I felt Conlan made it clear, but I guess the judges saw it differently. But I plan on going in and focusing on what I do, and not worry about the judges.”
Floyd Mayweather, Jr’s bronze medal finish in the Atlanta Games was certainly controversial. After losing a 10-9 decision to the Bulgarian Serafim Todorov, which caused a supervisor of the officials to resign in protest, Mayweather went on to an undefeated career in the Pros.