Shakur Stevenson, the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, is coming home.
Stevenson, who is from Newark, New Jersey, will fight just a few minutes from there in his second professional bout when he takes on Carlos Gaston Suarez in a six-round featherweight bout on May 20 at Madison Square Garden in New York, Top Rank announced Wednesday.
The fight will be on the undercard of unified junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford’s title defense against Felix Diaz. Crawford-Diaz will headline an HBO-televised card (10:15 p.m. ET/PT), although Stevenson’s bout is not slated for the telecast.
“It’s only his second professional fight, but Shakur is more than ready to make his debut on boxing’s biggest stage, Madison Square Garden,” Top Rank president Todd duBoef said. “He is made for the bright lights of the Big Apple and he will shine like a diamond on May 20.”
The 19-year-old Stevenson has not fought in his home region since the New Jersey Golden Gloves tournament in early 2015.
“It’s been a long time since I fought so close to home and I can’t wait to perform in front of my friends and family,” Stevenson said. “My city has always supported me and I know that Newark is going to come out on May 20. There have been so many huge fights at Madison Square Garden and I’m excited to fight in the big room where so many greats have fought before.
“I’m training out in Colorado with Terence Crawford and I’m happy I get to fight on his card in such a historic arena. I’m going to make sure everyone comes out and supports us both.”
Stevenson (1-0) made his professional debut on April 22 at the StubHub Center in Carson, California, and won a shutout six-round technical decision against Edgar Brito. The fight was halted at the start of the sixth round and sent to the scorecards because a cut Brito had suffered from an accidental head butt earlier in the bout was too bad for him to continue.
“It feels good to have my first pro fight under my belt,” Stevenson said. “My pro debut was great. My hero (and co-manager) Andre Ward (was) ringside yelling instructions to me. My opponent was tough and tried to make it dirty but I learned a lot and am going to put that knowledge to good use on May 20 in my first East Coast professional fight.”
Suarez (6-3-2, 1 KO), 28, of Argentina, is 1-0-2 in his past three bouts and will be boxing outside of South America for the first time.
Ward, the unified light heavyweight world titleholder and a 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist, has yet to fight at Madison Square Garden but is happy Stevenson will have the opportunity so early in his career.
“I have to admit, I’m a little jealous,” Ward said. “Shakur has the opportunity to fight at the Garden in his second fight, where as I’ve fought over 30 times and have yet to have a fight on that sacred ground. Actually, I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to be — the next generation going further than the older generation. I’m super excited for him. He shines the brightest on the biggest stage. There are not too many bigger stages than the Garden in boxing, and really all of sports.”
Crawford said he was pleased that his training partner will be on his card.
“My first fight there was exciting being that it was Madison Square Garden, but it was in The Theater,” Crawford said. “I didn’t get to fight in the (main arena) in my first fight like Shakur. I’m excited to fight in the big room being that there hasn’t been a Top Rank show there since Miguel Cotto (in 2011). I’m glad Shakur will be on the card with me.”