Shakur Stevenson believes he’s the best and is bent on proving it

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No one in boxing is hotter than Shakur Stevenson.

In a span of six fights he won world titles in two divisions – the second by knockout over respected Jamel Herring in October – and he’s poised to unify two 130-pound titles against Oscar Valdez on Saturday in Las Vegas (ESPN, ESPN+).

He’s only 24.

“The plan was definitely to move quickly,” Stevenson (17-0, 9 KOs) told Boxing Junkie. “I knew I’d get a title at 12-0, 13-0 and move fast. I was already elite. Top Rank knew that, my team knew that.

“And we executed the plan well.”

The last time Stevenson lost a fight was in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where he fell to Cuban Robeisy Ramirez 2-1 in the gold-medal match.

He was devastated at the time, having come within a whisker of realizing a dream. However, he isn’t the type to dwell on the past. As he said, the plan has been to move rapidly. And he doesn’t mean backward.

Now, when he looks back at the disappointment, he uses it to his advantage.

“It definitely motivates me,” he said, “because I don’t want to lose ever again. I know how I felt after losing. I’m past that now, at a different point of my career. I don’t think about it too much anymore.”

The way things have been going, it’s difficult to imagine Stevenson losing a fight.

His speed, skill set and ring intelligence have allowed him to dominate all of his opponents. One could count the rounds he’s lost on two hands in his nine fights scheduled for 10 rounds or more, meaning he has overwhelmed his best opponents.

Stevenson is just beginning to receive consideration by those who compile pound-for-pound lists – he’s an Honorable Mention on Boxing Junkie’s list – but he believes he’s already the best in the business and isn’t afraid to say so.

Arrogant? Not at all. Confident? Oh, yes.

That’s why he didn’t hesitate to move from one stiff challenge (Herring) to another (Valdez) in consecutive fights. He understands that dominating victories over such elite-level opponents will demonstrate that his perception of himself is reality.

“No, I’m not messing around,” he said. “I have fought the best to prove I’m the best. And I’m going to keep fighting the best. Right now my focus is on Valdez.”

Stevenson recognizes that he faces a significant challenge in Valdez, who also is a former Olympian and a two-division titleholder. The Mexican delivered his defining victory in February of last year, when he dominated and then stopped his feared countryman Miguel Berchelt in 10 rounds.

Stevenson is about a 4-1 favorite to beat Valdez, which is a wide margin by boxing standards, but no one will be shocked if the latter has his hand raised.

Even Stevenson referred to Valdez (30-0, 23 KOs) as a “great fighter.” He’s simply greater, as he sees it.

“I can’t take anything away from him,” Stevenson said. “He did what he was expected to do in all his fights, whether they were close or firefights. He always came out victorious. You have to respect him as a fighter.

“And I’m coming to dominate him. … I don’t think he is anywhere near my skill level. I’m smarter, I’m faster and I may be stronger than he is. Wait and see on April 30.”

If it turns out that way, it’s going to be difficult to keep Stevenson off those pound-for-pound lists.”

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