July 13 will be a big day in the history of New Jersey boxing -- and especially for Newark.
On that date, city native Shakur Stevenson, 21, will come back to his hometown for a featherweight bout against Hairon Socarras at the Prudential Center. Stevenson (11-0), who won a silver medal in the 2016 Olympics, has never fought professionally in his hometown before.
"Newark, I'm coming home! I've wanted to fight at Prudential Center since my pro debut, and the time has finally come," Stevenson told ESPN. "I haven't fought in Newark in over four years, and I promise it will be worth the wait.
Stevenson is considered one the sport's fastest rising prospects.
Stevenson, however, won't be the only Brick City native fighting that night: on the undercard will be Vito Mielnicki Jr., who will be making his pro debut. At 17, he will become the youngest professional fighter in state history.
The younger fighter and the Olympic medalist crossed paths when they were first learning the sport in their hometown, Mielnecki told CBS 2 News.
“When I was down, he would help me get up,” Mielnicki. “When he was down I would help him get up.”
New Jersey boxing officials uphold a strict age limit of 18 or older to turn pro, but granted an exception to Mielnecki. His coaches told the station the waiver is proof of Mielnecki's exceptional talent.
The Stevenson bout will be broadcast on ESPN and ESPN Deportes at10:30 p.m. with preliminaries streaming on ESPN+ beginning at 7 p.m.
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