Shakur unshaken by Harutyunyan’s nice guy persona

SHAKUR Stevenson returns home tomorrow evening to defend his WBC lightweight title against Artem Harutyunyan in the Prudential Center, Newark.

First and foremost, Shakur is not buying his opponent’s “stay humble” act. Harutyunyan has returned to the States using the same time-honoured strategies regularly employed by Manny Pacquiao: grinning and complimenting his opponent before unleashing the full force on them in the ring.

“I’m not falling for that. You’re trying to act real humble and butter me up and act like you’re not really coming here to win. No, you’re coming here to win, bro. I already know. He doesn’t sound as confident as I thought he would sound. Hopefully, he’s coming to fight,” stated Stevenson.

“I’m going to take him to a level he’s never been on. I’m just going to be myself. I’m going to come out and show my talent and show my levels. I think I’m one of the best in the sport of boxing at hit and don’t get hit.

“There’s a certain way of doing that, and I want to show the fans that all that moving around is something I don’t really have to do. I can sit in the pocket and beat you up, too.”

Still a relative unknown, Harutyunyan at least offered 12 rounds of action last July to give fans a taste of what he is all about. He turned out to be an incredibly durable and tricky customer who gave Frank Martin all he could handle in Las Vegas. On that occasion, ‘The Ghost’ prevailed on points, preserved his unbeaten record, swerved Shakur Stevenson and eventually earned a shot at Gervonta Davis.

Frank Martin at Wednesday’s final press conference.

The latter took place a few weeks ago (on June 15) and Frank was bombed out in round eight. Harutyunyan is hoping to fare much better against three-weight world champion Stevenson.

“I was born in Armenia, and I grew up in Germany. I’ve come all the way here to fight Shakur Stevenson in his hometown. It’s a big opportunity for me. I will do my best and give a great fight,” he said.

“I came to Las Vegas last year. I was fighting Frank Martin. It was a great fight. I know Frank Martin knows he lost the fight. I told everybody that I would be back in the States. And now it’s happened. I’m back here.

“It’s a great opportunity. I had a great training camp, and I’m well prepared. I’m ready for this fight. I know Shakur Stevenson is a good fighter. He is a world champion. We both fought at the Olympic games. He is a silver medalist, and I’m a bronze medalist. Now we’re fighting for the world championship.”

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