Bantamweight Shakur Stevenson (Newark, N.J.) has secured the first spot in the gold medal bout for his United States Olympic Boxing Team. It was a bit easier than the 19-year-old expected as he won his semifinal bout by walkover due to injury to his opponent. Russia’s Vladimir Nitikin pulled out of Thursday’s contest which advanced Stevenson on to Saturday’s gold medal bout.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez won his semifinal bout on the opposite side of the bantamweight bracket to set up another historic USA vs. Cuba match-up in Saturday’s final. Ramirez took gold in the flyweight division before moving up to bantamweight for the 2016 Olympics.
Stevenson has been looking to fight the London gold medalist since earlier in the year and can’t wait to step in the ring for the Olympic finale he’s dreamt of since he was a child. “I’m ready to put on a show and we’re about to turn this place out. I think it’s about to be a great match-up. We’ve got the 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Cuba, a great fighter and you’ve got the up and coming, rising superstar from USA. We’re about put on a show and I plan on coming out victorious,” Stevenson said.
The 19-year-old got word of a potential walkover late yesterday but knew he had to wait for official notification at this morning’s weigh-ins. “I found out yesterday but I wasn’t really too sure so I had to stay in the mindset that I’m fighting. I got up, went to weigh-ins and once I weighed in, they told me that I’m not fighting,” he said.
An avid boxing student, Stevenson spends endless hours watching boxing and he’s definitely spent time studying his Saturday opponent. “I came up watching Robeisy in the Olympics. It’s work time, just me and him, mano y mano. I’ve watched a lot of his fights. I know what I’m in for. He’s a great fighter. I definitely watched his fight today. I paid close attention to it. He had a tough opponent from Uzbekistan and he got it done,” said Stevenson. “I’m competitive so I like competitive fights. I like being in the ring with people that I think are good. For an Olympic gold medal, it’s going to be a great fight. I promise. It’s going to be two talented, skillful fighters and we’re going to see who’s going to come out on top.”
Stevenson has had tremendous support from his hometown of Newark as well his boxing family in Alexandria, Va., and he can’t wait to put on a show for everyone who’s been watching his run in Rio. “I love the support. Thank you to all my Newark people that are supporting me. I appreciate it. I plan on putting on for my people, knowing that they’re watching, knowing that my family’s watching, knowing all the support I have from my country. It’s going to be a great fight,” he said.
Stevenson is the first American male boxer to compete in an Olympic gold medal bout since his idol Andre Ward did so en route to gold in the 2004 Olympic Games. He and Ramirez will compete for Olympic gold at 2:15 p.m. Brazil time (1:15 p.m. ET) on Saturday at Riocentro Pavilion 6.
Reigning Olympic champion will compete in her semifinal contest on Friday at 3:30 p.m. Brazil time (2:30 p.m. ET) against Kazakhstan’s Dariga Shakimova. A victory in Friday’s match will advance Shields on to he second straight gold medal bout.
123 lbs/56 kg: Shakur Stevenson, Newark, N.J./USA won on walkover over Vladimir Nitikin, RUS, W/O