By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — You don’t know their names. Not many do. But next year at this time, you may. The road to the U.S.A, Boxing Olympic Trials, Pathway to Glory Olympic Trials Qualifier II, is running through Philadelphia from September 7-12, at the Holiday Inn Philadelphia Stadium.
This will be the Olympic Trials qualifying event for the elite men. All 10 men’s weight classes with top two advancing to the Olympic Trials for Men’s Boxing. The fight will be contested without headgear. The event is open to all elite male athletes who haven’t previously qualified for the Olympic Trials.
One of the fighters competing is gold-medal hopeful Shakur Stevenson, one of the world’ best amateurs. A number of Philadelphia fighters will be competing, but one that won’t, since he’s already qualified is Darmani Rock, the Philadelphia heavyweight who also has a good chance to medal, and possibly come away with gold in 2016, when the Olympics come to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Stevenson, from Newark, N.J., is a star in the making. Many in the boxing world believe he could be the next Floyd Mayweather. The amateur boxing world is well aware of Stevenson, the rest of the boxing world is about to find out. Major promoters are already trying to sink their teeth into the 17-year old, who won’t turn 18 until June 2015. Stevenson had the best year by far of any U.S. amateur. He won both the 2014 Youth World Championship and topped it by winning the 2014 Youth Olympics in Nanjing, China. What’s frightening about Stevenson is that he’s not just winning at the international level, he’s dominating. He won five-straight in taking gold at the Youth World Championships with a 3-0 shutout over the Ukraine’s Ruslan Zabachuk. Shakur followed that up with three-straight shutouts in grabbing gold at the Youth Olympics in late-August, beating crowd-favorite, China’s Ly Ping, 3-0. Barring injury, expect Stevenson to be in Rio—at 123 pounds.