While AIBA judges made sure that Mick Conlan and Shakur Stevenson did not meet in Rio, the man who has trained both bantamweights does believe that the two will clash in the future.
Wexford’s Billy Walsh, coach of Team USA and former Irish head coach, believes that both Stevenson and Conlan are destined to make it to the top echelons of professional boxing and will one day contest a World title fight.
Conlan was controversially defeated in his Olympic quarter final against Russia’s Vladimir Nikitin. Had the Belfast man been given the nod he would have faced US teen sensation Stevenson in the semi finals. Instead the New Jersey phenom was given a walkover in the last four as Nikitin was unable to fight due to injuries sustained in his dubious win over Conlan. Stevenson lost in the final to Cuban star, and former Conlan-defeater, Robeisy Ramirez.
Both Conlan and Stevenson look set to turn professional in the near future, Stevenson being all-but-confirmed to be going to Mayweather Promotions. Conlan’s future looks less certain with interest on both sides of the Atlantic. One thing which is certain, according to Billy Walsh, is that the two will meet in the coming years and he predicts that “it’ll be a world title fight down the road.”
“Without a doubt. No doubt. Michael Conlan’s maturity and physicality would probably get him there quicker than Shakur at the moment, and then yeah, it could be a multi-title, big show in Las Vegas somewhere.”
Walsh has grown fond of Stevenson in short time working with the 19 year old and described how “he is one of the best, he’s class.”
“He has some things to work on. Obviously a bit of maturity as well, but the ability, his movement, his timing, his distance.”
“We just have to work on his work-rate, get more flurries of punches, but he has all the tools to be great.”