NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 21: Shakur Stevenson (L) and Robson Conceição (R) face-off during the press conference ahead of their WBC and WBO junior lightweight championship fight at Prudential Center on September 21, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Shakur Stevenson says he isn’t feeling any pressure ahead of his first hometown title defense since becoming champion.

The 25-year-old will be defending his RING junior lightweight championship against Robson Conceição this Friday at the Prudential Center in what will be his first time headlining at the home of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils since his third round knockout of Alberto Guevara in 2019. Returning to his hometown as a champion means greater local accolades, like having the day declared Shakur Stevenson Day in Newark, and being presented with a plaque from his elementary alma mater Quitman Street School, but he says that none of that has shaken his focus.

“I’m not really focused too much on the pressure. I’m really focused on putting in the work come Friday night. I’m just ready to fight at the end of the day. All I can think about is fighting, performing and that’s everything that’s on my mind right now,” said Stevenson (18-0, 9 knockouts), who also holds the WBC and WBO titles at 130 pounds, at Wednesday’s press conference.

Stevenson says he’s coming off his best ever training camp as a professional, where he even sparred with undefeated heavyweight prospect and Top Rank stablemate Jared Anderson in Houston, Texas.

Conceição (17-1, 8 KOs) should have no issues getting motivated for this opportunity. The 33-year-old from Salvador, Brazil will be getting a second chance at a world title following his controversial decision loss to Oscar Valdez a year ago. He rebounded strongly from that performance to outclass the previously unbeaten Xavier Martinez and put himself into this position.

“I’m very motivated, I’ve trained all my life for this moment. The world was able to see that I was better than Oscar Valdez. I should have won so [Stevenson] is not really defending two titles because one should have been mine. I’m just a champion without the crown and I’m ready for Friday night,” said Conceição.

Stevenson says he was unimpressed with Conceição’s claims, stating that he had been far more decisive in his unanimous decision win over Valdez to unify two of the 130-pound titles.

He’s a good fighter,” said Stevenson of Conceição, “But I think he lost against Valdez. If you left it in the judges’ hands, then you lost. I fought Valdez, and I beat the s–t out of him. I don’t have any excuses. He’s talking about having COVID or something before his last fight. All I hear are excuses. I’m ready to fight. Tell him to not have any excuses on Friday night. I’m ready to beat him up.”

Conceição, who won the lightweight gold at the 2016 Olympics where Stevenson earned the bantamweight silver, insists on having Stevenson back up his talk on fight night.

“Shakur is someone that I really respect. He’s a great athlete. I can tell that he’s young, probably overly excited and speaks a little too much. This coming Friday, there will only be one champ, and that champ is me,” said Conceição.

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