2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson wins pro boxing debut

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CARSON, Calif. (AP) U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson has won his professional debut, beating Edgar Brito by technical unanimous decision in the sixth round.

Stevenson largely controlled his debut bout Saturday night at the famed outdoor ring south of downtown Los Angeles. The fight was stopped moments after the sixth round began when the ringside doctor ruled Brito was cut too badly to continue after an earlier clash of heads.

Brito was docked a point for head-butting Stevenson in the third round, but the challenger otherwise did little to dampen the debut of the touted featherweight from Newark, New Jersey.

Stevenson won every full round on every judge’s scorecard, peppering Brito with the quick hands and agility that have made him one of the most hyped prospects in recent U.S. boxing history.

“Before the fight, they told me not to go for the knockout,” Stevenson said. “Getting rounds in was more important. I give myself an `A.”‘

Eight months ago in Rio de Janeiro, Stevenson became the first American man to win anything bigger than a bronze medal in the past three Olympics. Stevenson reached the bantamweight final before losing a close decision to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez, a two-time Olympic champion.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. traveled to Brazil to watch, and he predicted Stevenson would become the next big name to challenge his legacy. Stevenson considered signing with Mayweather’s promotional company before choosing Top Rank and promoter Bob Arum.

“It was great work,” Arum said after Stevenson’s debut. “He worked hard. He came through. He got the win. He will only get better.”

Stevenson was accompanied to the ring in Carson by Olympic gold medal-winning Americans Andre Ward and Claressa Shields, and his ring-walk song was “Hail Mary,” by Tupac Shakur. Stevenson’s mother named him after the rapper, who died nine months before her son was born.

Stevenson started out on a Top Rank card featuring three world title fights. He will fight again May 20 in New York, and he plans to train with junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford in Colorado Springs in the interim.

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Boxing: Shakur Stevenson takes silver in split decision loss to Cuba’s Ramirez

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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Three four-round gold medal bouts hit the Olympics on Saturday, with one featuring one of the best American boxing prospects in recent history.

Shakur Stevenson took the silver medal after losing a split decision against Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez on Saturday in Rio.

WATCH: Full fight replay

Ramirez caught a slow-to-react Stevenson a few times in the first round, and was rewarded with unanimous 10-9 scores from all three judges, but Stevenson came back to land a trio of late shots in the second round to get the same scores in his favor.

The third round was a split decision, with Stevenson winning on Evangelos Bougioukas’ card and Ramirez winning on the cards of Fathi Madfoua and Trong Nghia Vuong.

Stevenson’s fight was in the middle of two others. First, Great Britain flyweight Nicola Adams defeated France’s Sarah Ourahmoune, taking three of four rounds on all three judges’ cards.

Cuban middleweight Arlen Lopez made it two golds for his country on the day, posting a  3-0 win over Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev.

WATCH: Shakur Stevenson in one of three gold medal boxing matches

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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Three gold medal fights are on the card for Saturday at the Olympics, with one a very high priority for USA Boxing fans.

Shakur Stevenson will go for bantamweight gold in a fight against Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez, having fought two less bouts than his opponent.

BOXING: Gold medal bouts

Stevenson’s fight is the second of the three fights, and should start around 1:15 p.m. EDT,

The first is women’s flyweight, where Great Britain’s Nicola Adams will go toe-to-toe with France’s Sarah Ourahmoune.

The men’s middleweights wrap up the day, as Cuba’s Arlen Lopez fights Uzbekistan’s Bektemir Melikuziev.