Behind The Tale Of The Tape: The Upbringings Of Shakur Stevenson, Jamel Herring

On Saturday, October 23 in the State Farm Arena in Atlanta Georgia, Jamel Herring will be defending his WBO Junior Lightweight title against Shakur Stevenson.

Stevenson is the favorite to win the 130 Pound title fight, but Herring has years of experience and is the bigger fighter with a two-inch reach advantage. Both southpaws will put on a show around 10 p.m. eastern.

Tactical advantages aside let’s get to know our challenger and champion facing off in the peach state.

The “Sugar”

Photo: The Athletic

Ash-Shakur Nafi-Shahid Stevenson, better known as Shakur Stevenson, was born in Newark, New Jersey.

The young boxer has achieved a lot very early.

He started his career by winning the AIBA youth world championships and the 2014 Summer Youth Olympics. He qualified for the US Olympic Boxing team in Rio, Brazil, and won a silver medal.

The 24-year-old is not only skilled but has strong punching power. He is undefeated in his first 16 fights and eight of them have come by way of knockout.

Stevenson’s talents and early success made him a prodigy in the boxing world.

He signed with Top Rank promotions in 2017 and his manager is International Boxing Hall of Famer Andre Ward.

In 2019, he faced his biggest test, fighting the WBO No. 2 featherweight Joet Gonzalez for the vacant WBO featherweight title.

Stevenson and Gonzalez already had a contentious feud going into the bout. At the time, Stevenson was dating Gonzalez’s little sister Jajaira, and Gonzalez did not approve. According to an interview with ESPN Gonzalez had this to say about his rival.

“I never liked him since the amateurs,” he said. “Fake-a– handshake… Loud, obnoxious, disrespectful… The way he dresses, half his a– showing. That ain’t no style. I mean, you think that looks cute? Come on, man, pick up your pants.”

The war of words would continue.

Photo: AFP

But when the two finally fought, Stevenson would dominate the fight, coming out victorious by unanimous decision becoming the WBO Featherweight champion. Stevenson’s attempts at mending the Gonzalez relationship post fight were unsuccessful.

In 2020, without a title defense, Stevenson would vacate his title and move to the super featherweight division. The decision would turn out to be a good one as he defeated Jeremiah Nakathila to win the WBO interim vacant Junior light heavyweight title.

Stevenson schooled his opponent. Nakathila would only land 2.3 punches per round according to CompuBox, making Stevenson almost untouchable.

Stevenson would also be criticized for his performance. Stevenson considers himself a superstar and facing a far inferior opponent he played mostly defense and did not take any risk creating a boring fight. Stevenson seems to acknowledge this and apologized to his opponent on social media.

When he takes the ring this Saturday he will not be fighting for eight younger siblings, but also his baby on the way with his girlfriend, rapper Yong Lyric.

The “Semper Fi”

Herring has an almost Hollywood-scripted backstory coming into this fight.

The 35-year-old was raised in Coram, New York. At four-years-old he was separated from his mother, Jeanine Herring because she was reportedly selling drugs.

He and his brother stayed with a family in Amityville, New York for 18 months until his mother was able to regain full custody.

Growing up in Gordon Heights Park, New York, poverty and crime is a cycle that is hard to break.

Herring’s best friend, Stephen Brown, found his way out through the Marines and he encouraged Herring to enlist.

Herring would take his friend’s advice and become a marine. While his contemporaries were fighting and winning tournaments, Herring was serving multiple tours in Iraq.

Herring trained in boxing prior to joining the armed forces but, as an active Marine, if he wanted to pursue his passion, he had to balance training with his service.

Photo: Sport of Boxing

He miraculously did.

In 2006, he joined the All-Marine Corps boxing team. In 2010, he won a silver medal at the World Military games and won consecutive gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 Armed forces championship as a Sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Herring would also qualify for the 2012 London Games. He was the first active-duty member of the U.S. boxing team since 1992. He did all this while raising four kids and dealing with the personal tragedy.

Herring’s first daughter, Ariyanah, was born on May 25, 2009. Two months later she would die of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SID).

The trauma from his two tours in Iraq and witnessing fellow soldiers become the victims of war combined with the unspeakable grief of losing a child, Herring shut down.

He stopped training, mourned and didn’t do much of anything else.

Herring would then have a breakthrough.

“I remember me telling myself that our daughter wouldn’t want to see me like this,” he said. “I know my daughter wouldn’t want to see me just throw my life away.”

Since his first fight in 2012 – where he pulverized Pulverizing Masayuki Ito to almost winning every round to claim the WBO junior lightweight title — he would go on the establish a 23-2 record.

He recently retained his WBO junior lightweight title by defeating Carl Frampton.

He did so with a dazzling display of power.

Herring doesn’t seem to have the same problem of putting on an entertaining fight unlike his opponent.

The Matchup

These fighters are coming into this matchup with two completely different stories and at different stages in their careers.

But as far as boxing X’s and O’s goes, the advantage usually goes to the more talented younger boxer, in this case that is Stevenson.

Stevenson is quick and his quickness has made contenders look like amateurs.

But Herring does have experience and is the bigger fighter.

He is two inches taller and has a two-inch reach advantage. He also has a naturally larger frame, which can help the punching power.

Each fighter will have something to prove Saturday night.

You can see it on ESPN+ on Saturday 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT or FIGHT SPORTS Max in over 50 countries. The undercard starts at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.

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