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Boxing/UFC

The next Floyd Mayweather? A chance for Shakur Stevenson to make his case

Shakur Stevenson is unabashedly looking ahead. The 22-year-old has a wish list of marquee fighters lined up. He easily rattles off their weaknesses and how he’d pick each one of them apart.

Josh Warrington is first up. Stevenson says it’s the only fight keeping him at 126 pounds and he’s agreed to travel to England to face the 30-0 IBF featherweight titlist. They just have to get the money right.

“I don’t like comparing myself to Floyd [Mayweather] — I let everybody else do that — but I think that fight [against Warrington] would be like Floyd vs. Ricky Hatton,” Stevenson says. “Where [Hatton is] coming forward trying to get to Floyd, then boom it’s over. Floyd finessing him, beating him to the punch then boom — got him. I think that fight would be similar to me [fighting] Josh Warrington. I think I’d stop him.”

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Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN: Shakur Stevenson vs. Felix Caraballo, 10 rounds, junior lightweights

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN: Jessie Magdaleno vs. Yenifel Vicente, 10 rounds, junior lightweights

As WBO featherweight titleholder Stevenson (13-0, 7 KOs) welcomes back boxing on Tuesday (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET) after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, he won’t face Warrington or any others on his list. Instead, he’s headlining against someone who was completely off his radar, Puerto Rico’s Felix Caraballo (13-1-2, 9 KOs).

“I don’t know nothing about [Caraballo], I don’t know not one thing,” Stevenson says. “I watched one, maybe two rounds of the guy. … [I’m going to] go in there and get him out of there.”

Stevenson hasn’t fought in nearly eight months — doubling the longest stretch of inactivity of his pro career — and he’s itching to get back. He watched only two rounds of Caraballo before predicting he’ll knock him out within the first four rounds. Stevenson hopes to prove he’s a “fighter at heart” and showcase the power that his doubters claim he lacks.

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But again, Stevenson has much more in mind than an early-round KO of Caraballo. He has a short-term road map to defeat Warrington, then move up to 130 where Top Rank has a strong stable of challengers for him to face.

He also has a five-year plan to become the king of boxing, with super lofty career goals of surpassing Mayweather’s 50-0 record before he hangs up the gloves.

“I want to out-do Floyd. At 13-0 right now, I think I’m better than where Floyd was when he was 13-0,” Stevenson says. “Floyd is the greatest fighter of our era. I just want to be better.

“I’m going to be running the game when I’m 27, 28, where there’s nothing you can do when you get in the ring with me. I’ll be that superstar of the sport, that alpha dog.”

Stevenson doesn’t care if you don’t believe he can do it. He’s ready to show you. All of this makes Stevenson the perfect fighter to feature as major boxing returns Tuesday.

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Shakur Stevenson is humbled by the comparisons to Floyd Mayweather, but aspires to surpass Mayweather’s illustrious career.

“Shakur had his [March 14 title defense vs. Miguel Marriaga] bout canceled two days before. He always stays in shape. When we couldn’t give guys confirmed dates, we knew we could give him four or five weeks’ notice and he’d be ready to go. Why not start with one of your youngest, brightest stars? Shakur, up to this point, has proven to be that,” Top Rank vice president Carl Moretti says. “Why not start off with that type of young face that the fans, the media and the television world can get used to? Shakur fits that bill perfectly.”

Stevenson is moving up to 130 for the Caraballo bout, and he anticipates staying there unless the pieces fall into place for the Warrington fight.

“[Warrington’s team is] trying to lowball me. They gotta understand that I’m a world champion, too, and I’m willing to go to his territory and fight that man in his backyard. With that being said, I deserve to get paid that way,” Stevenson explains. “If we can make it work, we’re going to make it work. I think he doesn’t mind fighting me either, to be honest.”

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2:05

Shakur Stevenson aims to fight Josh Warrington in the near future if a deal can be struck. For more Top Rank Boxing, sign up here for ESPN+ https://plus.espn.com/.

But another factor is in play that could prevent Warrington-Stevenson: the lack of a live audience. Both Moretti and Stevenson want it to be in front of a crowd. And for big fights like that one, the revenue and atmosphere have to be right to make it happen. But if fans are possible, that fight could happen as early as this fall.

Stevenson feels he will max out his career at welterweight, but he already has mapped out his plan to conquer the 130-pound division. He has three boxers there on his list: Leo Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez and Miguel Berchelt — in that order. He’s already broken down how he’ll defeat them.

On Santa Cruz: “I really want to fight Santa Cruz. I’m hoping that him and Tank (Gervonta Davis) don’t fight so I can get that fight. I’m going to torch him. I’m going to punish him. His style [is] too perfect for me: slow, throws a lot of punches, don’t got no power. Leo got the biggest name at the 130 division. The name is really why I want him. He’s flat-footed. He’s not really a smart fighter. He’s basic. I’d torch him. My style and his style, I’d beat him badly. I think he knows that though.”

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Shakur Stevenson loves his chances in a potential fight vs. Leo Santa Cruz, and discusses the possibility of squaring off against Oscar Valdez or Miguel Berchelt in the future.

On Valdez: “If I can’t get Santa Cruz, Oscar Valdez is the right fight for me. Me and him got unfinished business. I fought for his belt at 126 [after] he moved up and vacated the belt. He was a world champion so it’s only right me and him square off. [It’s] a hell of a fight. That’s a fight that should be made and the winner should fight [WBC titleholder] Berchelt. Valdez is a good fighter, [but] he’s slow, he’s wild with his punches. He throws a lot of wide, wild shots. He got power. You can tell he got power. But he’s another one that’s tailor-made for me.”

On Berchelt: “Berchelt is better than both of them. Berchelt is real awkward. He’s real strong. He doesn’t have a normal, pressure come-forward style. He throws punches from weird angles. I respect Berchelt’s game, but I don’t think he can do anything with me either.”

Fans are eager to see boxing return, so Stevenson’s platform Tuesday will be one of the biggest of his career. ESPN analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. says Stevenson could be Mayweather’s successor, and Top Rank promoter Bob Arum said Thursday that Stevenson “will exceed the performances by Floyd. He’s a rare, rare talent.” Moretti sees more of a Pernell Whitaker projection for Stevenson.

“I understand the comparisons. If you watch Floyd’s career as he got older and older, he became a real good defensive wizard. I’m real good at that stuff, too,” Stevenson says. “I understand it but I feel like I’m the first Shakur Stevenson.”

For a 22-year-old from Newark, New Jersey, with all that early hype, the time is ripe for Stevenson to maximize his brand and fan base starting with his return to boxing Tuesday night. If he really wants to be the next Floyd, he needs to make the most of this very unique opportunity.

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Boxing/UFC

Floyd Mayweather – ‘I will be one of the best trainers in the world’

Floyd Mayweather Jr. has said he will be “one of the best trainers in the world” and follow in the footsteps of his late uncle.

Roger Mayweather, who trained Floyd Jr. for much of his career, had been ill for some time before he died in March following complications related to his diabetes.

Mayweather Jr. posted a video on Instagram of him training his 14-year-old nephew accompanied by a long caption about his own trainers.

“As many of you know, I’ve had incredible trainers which included my dad and uncle. Due to the recent passing of my Uncle Roger, I’ve felt inspired to help those around me the same way they have been there for me throughout my boxing career,” he wrote.

“In a time where we must distance ourselves from others, it has allowed me to reflect on how I want to make a difference in people lives and help them achieve their goals. A true trainer wants the best out of their fighter and pushes them to the best of their abilities.

“I want to leave an impression on those around me and allow them to see their potential.

“I am new at training and so far I’ve been working with people with no boxing experience, therefore we are growing together. But I promise you, I will be one of the best trainers in the world.”

Roger Mayweather, a longtime Las Vegas resident originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, boxed professionally from 1981 to 1999 and won world titles as a junior lightweight and junior welterweight. He faced many notable opponents during his 18-year career, including Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (twice), Pernell Whitaker, Kostya Tszyu, Livingstone Bramble, Rafael Pineda, Vinny Pazienza, Rocky Lockridge and Samuel Serrano.

“My uncle was one of the most important people in my life inside and outside of the ring. Roger was a great champion and one of the best trainers in boxing. Unfortunately, his health was failing him for several years and now he can finally rest in peace,” Floyd Mayweather Jr. said in a statement following his death.

“Roger meant the world to me, my father Floyd Sr., my uncle Jeff, our whole family, everyone in and around the Mayweather Boxing Gym and the entire boxing world. It is a terrible loss for all of us.”

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Boxing/UFC

Roger Mayweather, Floyd’s uncle and former trainer, dies at 58

Roger Mayweather, a two-time world champion who also found success as a trainer, died Tuesday after years of declining health and complications from diabetes. He was 58.

He was part of one of boxing’s most famous families as the uncle of superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr., whom he trained for much of his career, and the brother of former pro fighters and trainers Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Jeff Mayweather.

“My uncle was one of the most important people in my life inside and outside of the ring,” Floyd Mayweather Jr. said in a statement, just days after the death of Josie Harris, his former longtime girlfriend and the mother of three of his children. “Roger was a great champion and one of the best trainers in boxing. Unfortunately, his health was failing him for several years and now he can finally rest in peace.

“Roger meant the world to me, my father Floyd Sr., my uncle Jeff, our whole family, everyone in and around the Mayweather Boxing Gym and the entire boxing world. It is a terrible loss for all of us. We are thankful for all the love and well-wishes we have already received as word traveled about Roger’s passing. It helps me to see that he was able to touch so many people through his life in boxing, because he gave so much to the sport which was his first and longtime love.”

Roger Mayweather, a longtime Las Vegas resident originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, boxed professionally from 1981 to 1999 and won world titles as a junior lightweight and junior welterweight. He faced many notable opponents during his 18-year career, including Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (twice), Pernell Whitaker, Kostya Tszyu, Livingstone Bramble, Rafael Pineda, Vinny Pazienza, Rocky Lockridge and Samuel Serrano.

“This is a sad day for the Mayweather Promotions family because that is truly what Roger was to us,” said Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe, who worked side-by-side with Roger for many of Floyd’s biggest fights. “On top of being a phenomenal fighter in his own career, Roger was one of the most essential parts of guiding Floyd to the incredible career he had in becoming the best ever. We hope you keep Floyd and the entire Mayweather family in your thoughts and prayers during this time.”

In recent years, Roger’s long boxing career filled with grueling fights seemed to catch up with him.

“He wasn’t doing very well over the last couple of years,” said former two-time world titleholder Jessie Vargas, whom Mayweather used to train. “I think it started back in 2010, 2011. That’s when it was becoming obvious [that his health] was getting worse and worse. It was just tough for him to get over it. Over the years it became more difficult for him. The last time I saw him, it must’ve been about six months ago. He wasn’t really visiting the gym as often because of his illness.”

Mayweather (59-13, 35 KOs), known as the “Black Mamba,” won his first world title in 1983, claiming the WBA junior lightweight belt by eighth-round knockout of Serrano.

Jesse Reid trained Mayweather for about eight years and for both of his title runs before they parted ways after his second loss to Chavez.

“The best fight with Roger was when he beat Sammy Serrano in Puerto Rico,” Reid said. “He beat him in his backyard, just destroyed him. Roger, if he would’ve done road work, could’ve been a champion for a lot longer, but he was never a guy who liked to run. Then he started living a little high on the hog, and that caught up with him.”

Mayweather made two successful defenses before losing the belt by first-round knockout to Lockridge in 1984.

In 1985, Mayweather challenged Chavez for his junior lightweight world title but was knocked out in the second round. In 1987, Mayweather faced another all-time great in Whitaker and lost a unanimous decision in a regional lightweight title bout. After that loss, Mayweather won his next two fights and landed a title shot against WBC junior welterweight world titlist Rene Arredondo and knocked him out in the sixth round to claim another belt.

Mayweather made four successful defenses before losing the title to Chavez in a rematch in 1989, a fight Chavez dominated before Mayweather retired on his stool following the 10th round.

Mayweather fought for junior welterweight world titles twice more but suffered a ninth-round knockout loss to Pineda for a vacant belt in 1991 and a one-sided decision challenging Tszyu in 1995.

“He was a real warrior,” said Top Rank chairman Bob Arum, who promoted several of his fights. “He’d fight anybody. And even after he retired, he was a human voice in the Mayweather camp. With all the boasting and stuff that Floyd did, Roger was a reality check.”

As Roger’s boxing career was coming to an end, Floyd Jr. turned pro in 1996, and Roger served as his trainer while Floyd Sr. was incarcerated. Floyd Sr. eventually took over his son’s training, but when father and son had a falling out, Roger — who had his own falling out with his brother — returned to lead Floyd Jr.’s corner in 2000. He trained Floyd Jr. for most of the rest of his career, until his health prevented it.

Roger was at the center of an infamous incident during Floyd Jr.’s challenge of junior welterweight world titlist Zab Judah in 2006 in Las Vegas. With five seconds left in the 10th round, Roger entered the ring because he was angry at Judah, who had fouled his nephew with a blatant low blow followed by a right hand to the back of the head.

As referee Richard Steele called timeout to give Floyd a chance to recover, Roger stormed toward Judah, which prompted Yoel Judah, Zab’s father and trainer, to also enter the ring. He went straight for Roger and threw a punch, igniting a melee in the ring and a near-riot inside the Thomas & Mack Center.

Roger Mayweather was ejected from the fight, which Floyd Jr. went on to win by unanimous decision. The Nevada State Athletic Commission revoked Roger’s trainer license for one year and fined him $200,000, which was his entire paycheck for training his nephew for the bout.

Roger also had legal issues outside the ring through the years, including a 2009 incident in which he allegedly attacked Melissa St. Vil, a female boxer he trained.

During the buildup to many of Floyd Jr.’s fights, Roger was a staple of the HBO reality series “24/7.” Reid recalled one of the episodes fondly.

“I remember watching ’24/7,’ [and] he was training Floyd, and he said, ‘The only white guy I respect is Jesse Reid,'” Reid said. “And when I saw that, I flew to Vegas and said, ‘What the hell’s going on with you, Roger? Are you changing or what?’ He said, ‘Yes, I learned a lot from you and just wanted to thank you.’ I told him, ‘God damn, that means a lot to me, to know that I helped you in some way.'”

Mayweather also had a sweet side, which Vargas recalled.

“I remember we were fighting in L.A., and we walked around a little bit after lunch. He saw someone on the sidewalk. He seemed like he was homeless, [and Roger] walked by and gave him $20 and kept walking,” Vargas said. “He didn’t even say anything to me about what he did. I just noticed it. He didn’t think I had seen it, and he didn’t even mention it. He did good things for people without having to brag about it. He just did it out of his heart. I know he was very outspoken, but he was also very generous.

“We all loved him for the person he was. We admired him as a fighter, a former world champion, a great fighter. Not too many people got too close to him that I did notice. He was good guy. It really hurts me, as it does the boxing world. The good thing is he’ll no longer be suffering because I know his health, his condition wasn’t very good. May he rest in peace without any suffering. A lot of us will miss him and love him.”

ESPN’s Steve Kim contributed to this report.

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