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  Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson
Final Press Conference

They started as acquaintances, but once Jamel Herring acquired the belt Shakur Stevenson wanted, the friendly vibes went out the window. Herring will defend his WBO junior lightweight world title against former featherweight champion Stevenson on Saturday night from State Farm Arena in Atlanta (ESPN, ESPN Deportes & ESPN+, 10:30 p.m. ET).

Herring (23-2, 11 KOs) has made three defenses of the title he won from Masayuki Ito in May 2019. Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs), a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is considered by many to be the heir to the pound-for-pound throne. He picked up the interim world title in June with a dominant decision over Jeremiah Nakathila.

When Herring and Stevenson had their final faceoff, the fighters and their teams exchanged verbal barbs, with Stevenson grabbing Herring's belt on multiple occasions. They were separated and will resume the jawing at Friday's weigh-in.

The ESPN main card will also feature Puerto Rican star Xander Zayas (10-0, 7 KOs) in a six-round junior middleweight bout against Dan Karpency, and the second pro bout for middleweight Nico Ali Walsh, grandson of "The Greatest."

The ESPN+ undercard stream (7:30 p.m. ET) will showcase junior middleweight prospect Evan Holyfield (7-0, 5 KOs), son of Atlanta legend and former four-time heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield.

At Thursday's final press conference, this is what the combatants had to say.

Jamel Herring

"The odds just play to my story. Iíve always been an underdog, not just in boxing but in life, so I donít get into the oddsmaker thing. It doesnít bother me at all."

"Itís not personal, itís just business. Weíre building a fight is all it means to me. Iíve heard worse and been through worse. Weíre just two top competitors in the division trying to prove who is the best."

"It just feels like another elite level fight in a loaded and talented division, so we just take it one fight at a time. We put all personal feelings to the side and just go to work and do what we have to do."

"Atlanta is cool. I have family out here. My sons live out here as well. Itís another home and itís an honor just to be fighting in the State Farm Arena because thereís not a lot of fights coming into town, so whenever you can bring a special fight to a certain city, itís always a great thing."

Shakur Stevenson

"It means everything to me. This is my first time being able to go against a champion and being able to take a champion's belt will mean a lot to me.... and I canít wait to hear them say, ďAND THE NEW!'"

"Itís definitely not personal, just business at the end of the day. Heís not my friend. I donít hit him up and say, 'letís fight.'" We donít have any conversations. I donít talk to Jamel Herring outside of boxing."

"Itís going to feel real good beating the whole team. I canít wait to go against {Herring trainers Brian McIntyre and Red Spikes}. Itís not just Jamel that Iím fighting. Iíve got to beat Bomac and Red, and itíll feel good doing that."

"Youíre going to see a special night, my coming out party. Itís going to be a great night, and he said heís going to spoil the party, so letís see if he can do it."

Xander Zayas

"Iím grateful to be here. Itís just an amazing experience to be 19 years old making my ESPN debut. Iím ready to go, and on Saturday night, Iím going to show it. I like to have fun and keep it simple and smile for the camera."

"I have a lot to learn from my last fight, but my team has made the proper adjustments and on Saturday night Iíll show that I can adjust to a lot of stuff. The main event is a great dance. You have two great boxers going toe to toe and I just wish that the best man wins."

Nico Ali Walsh

"All of the greats say that the first fight is always the hardest. The first is out of the way, so itís all fun from here on out. I love boxing, itís my passion, and Iím looking forward to continuing my grandfatherís legacy and creating my own. After the first fight, you get used to it. I have the greatest people in my corner. I have SugarHill Steward and BB Hudson, so Iím very happy with the corner that I have, and if I could build anything off of my pro debut, it would be more off a jab and a cleaner right hand."

Evan Holyfield

"It means absolutely everything to fight in my hometown. This is my second time fighting in Atlanta. Itís boxing, hit and donít get hit, and Iím going to do whatever it takes to win whether I fight or box. My dad always tells me to train at my hardest. Iíve been real focused this training camp, and Iím just ready to go to work. Itís definitely like a kid in a candy store just being around all of this talent. Itís an honor. We got Xander Zayas, Shakur Stevenson, Jamel Herring, and Nico Ali. Itís nothing but greatness."


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