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Shakur Stevenson, Terence Crawford at home training in Colorado Springs

August 17, 2017 Updated: August 17, 2017 at 11:25 pm
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Shakur Stevenson is an American professional boxer who competes in the featherweight division. As an amateur, Stevenson represented the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal in the bantamweight division. Stevenson (right) spars with Delante Johnson at the Olympic Training Center on Monday, July 31, 2017. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

He won his medal at the 2016 Rio Games. He made his pro debut at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. His second fight was at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden, fighting in front of a welcoming, partisan crowd 15 minutes from the New Jersey native's home.

Yet, Colorado can lay claim to handing Shakur Stevenson a first in his life: seeing a bear up close.

"Soon as I pulled up (in the car), he ran away," said the 20-year-old, flashing a smile he's getting known for. "I wasn't really scared because I know bears ain't going to bother you unless you bother them. But just the fact that I never seen a bear in real life, unless I go to the zoo, and I saw a bear, it was weird."

Stevenson will make his second pro appearance on a Terence Crawford-headlined fight when he puts his 2-0 record on the line in Lincoln, Nebraska, on Saturday.

Stevenson joined Crawford in Colorado Springs for training camp ahead of their fights. Stevenson (one knockout) will face David Michel Paz (4-3-1).

Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs), among the pound-for-pound best in the world, is aiming to become the first fighter to unify the belts in the super lightweight division. He faces unbeaten Namibian Julius Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs) in the main event.

"I expect for him to come out there and fight his heart out," Crawford told The Gazette via phone. "Either he's going to pressure me or box me, but I feel like those are the only two options that he really has."

Stevenson wanted to do this camp a little differently. So he rented a house and brought three of his eight siblings with him to Colorado Springs. That's where he saw the bear.

He's back in Colorado Springs and at the Olympic Training Center for sparring, working with USA boxers who are preparing for worlds later this month. Not only does it get Stevenson ready, it also lets some of his peers - fighters he's trained with - be around a pro.

They also get to occasionally see Crawford spar.

"You want to let them know that anything is possible and all they've got to do is keep training hard and keep their mind focused on the sport," Crawford said.

Crawford, who has used Colorado Springs as a training ground since 2013, was doing his camp at Triple Threat Gym.

"This became a second home for me," Crawford said about the Springs. "We thought we'd try it out and it's close to Nebraska and the altitude (helps). Once we tried it out it was a good experience and we've been coming out ever since."

Stevenson's coach is also a resident coach at the OTC.

Kay Koroma, whose gym is in Alexandria, Virginia, is also much more than the young pro's coach. He took Stevenson in during his teen years to help him train, and so neither would have to make the three-hour-plus commute on weekends for a few days' work.

Koroma sees Stevenson taking care of family and isn't surprised.

"From where we come from, it's automatically in you," Koroma said. "Always take care of somebody or take care of people, even if you don't have it."

As fight day approaches, it sounds like Stevenson is planning on more training camps locally.

"I love the training out here," he said. "This is the place to be. The altitude is crazy. I've been having some great training camps out here. It's been a success for my first two fights. It's been a success for mainly my career, so why not keep it going."

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