Boxing is known as the theater of the unexpected.
But if you’ve been a patron of this dark and sometimes sunny art, you are less often surprised by what you see and hear. History not repeating itself, but often rhyming…
The buildup to this Saturday’s fight, pitting Shakur Stevenson against Joet Gonzalez, the ultra talented pugilist-specialist from Newark, NJ, an Olympian, against a Cali kid from a fighting family, seeking to upend the momentum of a near-future superstar…
The buildup has featured an element I don’t recall seeing before.There is a beef going on, and it stems from, it seems, the fact that Stevenson has had (and maybe is still?) having a relationship with Joet’s sister, Jajaira.
She is a fighter too, an amateur, and word leaked out first on message boards that she and Shakur, age 22, were an item.
Details were not abundant, because, hello, this is the fight game, not Days of Our Lives.
But, basically, Joet came out on the Everlast TALKBOX podcast, and said he wanted to fight Shakur, and furthermore, he said he’d knock him out. Shakur took umbrage….and lingering beneath the straight-forward callout, was the relationship between Stevenson and Jajaira.
That relationship is being referenced in the leadup to the scrap, which will unfold on a Top Rank card, portions of which will run on ESPN+.
Stevenson has been inclined to not go into details, or even close to it, about this element of the buildup, or back-story. But Joet has gamely answered some queries, admitting that yes, this family matter has affected him. And is still in play….
On Monday, I checked in with the 23-0 (14 KOs) boxer, who is trained by his father Jose. How, I wondered, does Joet feel about the promotion delving into the tumult over Jaquira and Shakur’s history?
“Yeah I know but they’ve been together for about three years,” Joet told me. “I guess that’s the story they want to use to build up the audience.”
OK, is that annoying, though?
“A little but yeah I understand the business side to it and know that in this sport the best story will be used to promote a fight,” he replied, sagely.
I shifted the gear….I asked about his condition, weight-wise.
“Yeah, I’m good,” Joet answered. “128.”
Joet knows come fight night, back stories recede, and front and center will be a test of will, skill, strength, stamina, speed….and the story of a controversial romance will not factor in.