Shakur Stevenson will be moving on to the finals in the men’s bantamweight division in boxing will be moving on to the gold medal bout without competing in the semi-finals.
Stevenson’s semi-final opponent, Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin, withdrew from the bout on Thursday due to injury. Nikitin suffered gashes during his quarterfinal match with Ireland’s Michael Conlan. Stevenson is now guaranteed the first gold or silver medal for U.S. men’s boxing since Andre Ward at Athens in 2004. And thanks to Nico Hernandez’s bronze medal win, it will also be the first time since those Games in Athens that U.S. men’s boxing leaves an Olympics with more than one medal.
Stevenson, a Newark, New Jersey, native who entered the Olympics without a loss in his amateur career, will fight Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez on Saturday.
"I always want to fight, but once I found out I wasn’t fighting [Nikitin], I kind of liked it," Stevenson said. "I can use the extra days off. Once I found out I wasn’t fighting, I just kept moving to Saturday."
Stevenson spent some of his extra time scouting Ramirez, who competed on Thursday against Uzbekistan’s Murodjin Akhmadaliev. Ramirez won the gold medal in the flyweight division at the London Olympics in 2012.
"He had a tough opponent from Uzbekistan, and he got it done," Stevenson said. "He made it look easy, and we’re about to get after it, I swear."
Following the Olympics, it is expected Stevenson will turn pro. While expected to start his professional career with Top Rank Promotions, a tweet from Floyd Mayweather might suspect otherwise. Stevenson has not commented on this situation.
2/ and that was to extend a warm welcome to @ShakurStevenson into The Money Team family.
— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) August 17, 2016
Despite his withdrawl, Nikitin will still receive a bronze medal, as well as Akhmadaliev.
The gold medal bout will air at 1:15 p.m. via NBC’s Olympics online streams. It is not scheduled to air on television as of noon Friday.