By Brian Webber: Unified super featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson says he was impressed with his sparring sessions with top welterweights Terence Crawford & Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.
Stevenson revealed this week that he sparred with former three-division world champion Crawford when he was 17-years-old, and says he took a beating from him.
That was years ago before Shakur matured into the fighter he is today, but he feels that he learned a lot from the work he did with the Nebraska native Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs).
It’s too bad Stevenson is three weight classes below WBO 147-lb champion Crawford because that would be an excellent fight to see between those two talented fighters.
Shakur (18-0, 9 KOs) is taking his time in making a move up to 135, but we could see him move up next year.
In the meantime, Stevenson will be defending his WBC/WBO 130-lb titles on September 23rd on ESPN against Robson Conceição at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
Stevenson talks sparring with Crawford
“I feel like it’s dog vs. dog. Both of those dudes are mentally strong, and they’ve both got the killer instincts in them and they’re both willing to go to war,” said Shakur Stevenson on Brian Custer’s podcast.
“When I was 17, I was at the Olympic training center, and I had just gotten done training. Julie came to me and she had Bud Crawford on the phone.
“The last time I had seen him, I was at ringside and I was talking mad smack to him. I was talking so crazy. I was talking that I wanted to spar him and I’d beat him up.
“So, he gets on the phone, and mind you, I’d just got done training, sparring, but I’m crazy. So he gets on the phone, and I say, ‘Where are you at?’ I know he’s in Colorado. He’s like, ‘I’m at the gym right now. Where are you at?’ He started talking crazy to me, back and forth.
“This was the beginning of me and Bud just getting around each other. This is how we became super cool. So I’m on my way to the gym and I pull up on him.
“I pull up on him and he’s about to spar. So I’m like, ‘you going to give me some rounds?’ I’m talking so crazy, and this is one of the one times that I had to actually learn that I’m not the best.
“He gets in the ring and this dude got there and was beating me up. We only sparred two or three rounds, and it was four-minute rounds. This dude beat me up so bad. I swear to God, that was the worst a** whipping that I ever had as a fighter, and I couldn’t believe it.
“I went home that day, and I could not believe what happened because it doesn’t happen to me. I was a kid. I used to spar with pros, I used to beat up on pros all the time.
“It was something new, and the next time we sparred, I always made sure, ‘This is going to be different. You’re not just going to beat me up.’ From that sparring session and just being around Bud Crawford is a major reason why I am who I am.
“He actually let me know that there are levels, and I need to step my game up. Even though I was 17 at the time, I was a hell of a 17-year-old. I used to win every tournament. I wasn’t like a normal 17-year-old.
“I just knew at that point in time that I needed to get better than I am, get stronger, and get better. The next time I get in the ring with this guy, I want to be able to do something with him. He can’t just beat me up like that.
“It shouldn’t be like that. At that time, I appreciate that dude for that. He’s one of the dudes that I can say made me who I am today.
“We might see a war, and they’ve both got boxing skills too. We can see a boxing match. I don’t know. I’m just excited to see the fight. Bud is like my brother. Errol has been like a big brother to me over the years too.
“I got much respect for Errol and Bud, but I cant wait to see the fight. It’s going to be an amazing fight. Bud is my brother. I love my brother,” said Shakur when asked who he’s picking to win the Spence vs. Crawford fight.
Shakur discusses sparring with Boots Ennis
“I feel like Boots is a bad dude. He can do it all and can box, he can bang, and he can punch, and one thing people don’t understand is that dude is fast,” said Stevenson about Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.
“I sparred him too. He’s somebody else that I sparred. Literally, when we came out in the first round, he was just hitting me with a jab. His hand speed, and I’m a small guy, so I’m fast too. His hand speed.
“It was like this dude was faster than me, and he was jabbing me like, ‘Boom-boom.’ He had a quick jab. I think people sleep on him, but he’s a killer. He’s really a killer. He always stays in shape, he’s always in the gym.
“He’s somebody that motivates me too. Whenever I’m on my phone, and I see Boots in the gym after a fight, I’m like, ‘Hold up, I got to go get back in the gym. I can’t miss no days. There are certain days that I’m relaxing.
“Somebody like Boots will get me up and get me going. He’s a bad dude, and I think a lot of fighters are going to have trouble with him and I can’t wait to see him get those big fights.
“It was very competitive,” said Stevenson when asked how competitive his sparring sessions were with Jaron Ennis. “Boots and Bozy say he was taking stuff off his punches, which when I see him knocking people out, he probably was.
“There were certain punches and I was like, ‘Oh, that stings.’ I had to get away from certain punches, and that wasn’t my first time sparring Boots either. Like I told you, I’m a fighter that spars with everybody. I really don’t care.
“Boots is definitely a killer. You got to see him in the gym. Even in the gym, you see him go rounds and rounds, that dude can go. I can go rounds too, but that dude can go rounds and rounds.
“He’s actually one of the few people I seen go rounds and rounds like me. He’s a bad dude,” said Stevenson.