Champion boxer Shakur Stevenson returns home to Newark ahead of big fight

One of the biggest names in boxing is preparing to fight at the Prudential Center in Newark on Friday – and the city’s citizens will be in his corner.
Shakur Stevenson will put his undefeated record on the line. Rising to fame to become a boxing headliner, Stevenson says he nearly blew it all at the start of his career.
Stevenson on Tuesday visited the Boylan Street Rec Center in Newark, where he found hope when he was young. He says he is trying to do the same for today’s children.
“I wanna be one of them people that steps up and shows the younger generation and the young kids that’s coming up out of there, they can do anything they put their mind to,” Stevenson says.
Stevenson says he is proof this can happen. He is a former Olympian promoted by top rank boxing. At 25 years old, Stevenson flashes a youthful smile outside of the ring. But inside, he becomes a force.
But Stevenson says he was heading down the wrong path when he first started.
Video shows a brawl inside a Miami parking garage where Stevenson can be seen punching a guy on the ground. His friend is seen punching two women. Stevenson received probation for that incident. He says that he is not that person anymore.
“I made a mistake when I was a kid. I had just turned 21. Everybody makes mistakes,” he says. “I’m just an overall better fighter person and I’m a grown man now.”
Stevenson says he learned boxing from his grandfather. From his days as a silver medalist, Stevenson’s success is celebrated in Newark.
“This is a very proud moment, not only for myself, but for the city of Newark. We just love him,” says Nasir Graham, boxing coordinator for the city of Newark.
He says Stevenson shows one can come back from a serious mistake.
Boxing may not be as popular as it once was, but it still plays a critical role in Newark.
“When you put down the weapons and do real men stuff – that’s what boxing is to Newark,” Graham says.
Stevenson says for him it’s a means to fame and fortune. But he says there is also room for one.
“Even as the years go on, I’m going to get even better than I am now,” he says.
Stevenson bought about 100 tickets for Newark families for the event. The city is helping them get to the Prudential Center for fight night.