Shakur Stevenson has his hand raised after defeating Shuichiro Yoshino. Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images
After seven years as a professional boxer, Shakur Stevenson announced his retirement on Monday night, stating that he has fought his last ever fight. Or has he?
The 26-year-old boxer from Newark, N.J., who currently holds the WBC lightweight title, raised more than a few eyebrows with his Twitter post.
“I’m officially retiring from the sport of boxing,” began Stevenson’s tweet. “I’ll be in the gym forever perfecting my craft and helping the next generation become great and chase they dreams but I ain’t fw this weak boxing game.”
I’m officially retiring from the sport of boxing I’ll be in the gym forever perfecting my craft and helping the next generation become great and chase they dreams but I ain’t fw this weak boxing game 💪🏾
— Shakur Stevenson (@ShakurStevenson) January 30, 2024
The announcement was preempted by the announcement that the World Boxing Organization had ordered Stevenson’s Top Rank stablemate Emanuel Navarrete to face Denys Berinchyk for one of the lightweight belts that Devin Haney had vacated upon moving to 140 pounds. The announcement meant that Stevenson would likely not be fighting Navarrete next, depriving him of a matchup against a come-forward brawler style matchup that could rehabilitate his image following an uninspired unanimous decision win over like-minded counterpuncher Edwin De Los Santos in November.
Reacting to the Navarrete-Berinchyk announcement, Stevenson (21-0, 10 knockouts) said “this is sickening…shit is disgusting,” before adding that he might as well retire.
Top Rank declined to comment on Stevenson’s retirement announcement, while WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman did not respond to an email inquiring about Stevenson’s tweet.
Wali Moses, the trainer/grandfather of Stevenson, broke out in laughter when asked about Stevenson’s retirement announcement.
“I’m not gonna react to it because I don’t think it’s a real retirement,” said Moses in a phone call on Tuesday evening. “It started with a statement where he made something to the fact saying that all these guys in boxing, I should retire. They took it and ran with it, and he started maybe feeding off of that just for the laughs. His love for boxing is bigger than that.”
Moses says he expects Stevenson to be back in the ring in April or May. In the meantime, Moses is focused on two of his other grandsons, aged 8 and 10, who will be competing in the National Silver Gloves in Independence, Mo., beginning on Feb. 1.
Premature retirement announcements that don’t last any longer than the typical gap between a fighter’s matches are not exactly atypical. Teofimo Lopez announced his retirement immediately after scoring a unanimous decision win over Josh Taylor in his last bout to win the RING and WBO junior welterweight championships, but, surprisingly, he will be back in the ring on Feb. 8 to defend against Jamaine Ortiz. Manny Pacquiao once announced his retirement prior to his third bout with Timothy Bradley in 2016, vowing to devote his full attention to his political career, but was back in the ring less than seven months later for a fight with Jessie Vargas. His retirement had lasted shorter than the nine-month gap following his previous bout the year before.
There’s also Tyson Fury, who had announced his retirement in 2017 and 2022, and then stated in an ESPN article last October that he was interested in signing a contract for another ten fight deal.
Given how fleeting boxing retirements can be, we’d be better served holding off on any post-scripts to his career for the time being.
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected].