How J. Prince helped bring Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward and now Shakur Stevenson to boxing glory

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Oct 22, 2021

  • Eric WoodyardESPN

EMOTIONALLY Substantial OFF a big payday, Shakur Stevenson felt like it was time to get iced out.

He experienced just claimed the WBO interim junior light-weight title right after cruising past Jeremiah Nakathila. His 24th birthday was suitable all over the corner. So, Stevenson resolved to spoil himself with a present: a chunky, diamond-encrusted chain with his initials, SS, as a flashy attraction.

Stevenson wished to splurge. Even so, his co-supervisor James Prince, aka J. Prince, required to place factors in perspective.

“I needed to go get yet another chain. But I did not have a home still. I did not have none of that set, so he sat me down and pointed me in the course of getting a dwelling,” Stevenson claimed of Prince. “Which is a lot more important than going out listed here to buy a couple of chains and jewelry and watches.

“I was wondering, ‘I’m hoping to be out in this article seeking superior. I am tryna have the chain,'” he spelled out. “But I in fact listened to him and I feel like that was one of the smartest moves to do now that I am in the predicament I’m in. It feels good to have my personal location that I can occur to, I reside at and I come to feel secure. He surely guided me in the proper way.”

That romantic relationship and the direction that came with it commenced a selection of many years in the past when Stevenson, then an amateur boxer, satisfied Prince by a mutual mate, Antonio Leonard. Stevenson then played pool with Prince, stayed at his dwelling and bonded via casual dialogue.

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ESPN+, Saturday, 7:25 p.m. ET: Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson undercard

ESPN, Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET: Jamel Herring vs. Shakur Stevenson, 12 rounds, for Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title

They grew nearer as Stevenson went through the 2016 Olympic encounter of profitable a silver medal. Stevenson claims Prince never ever chased him strongly to turn into his supervisor, at minimum not outwardly, but a bond was rather shaped by means of conversations about boxing history. Progressively, talks emerged of personal company programs, and it was the personable nature of Prince that eventually built Stevenson want to indication with him.

Stevenson, at first from New Jersey, now lives in Houston — the exact town where Prince built his empire as one of the most respected guys in the hip-hop sector as founder and CEO of Rap-A-Large amount Records.

His business acumen aided encourage fellow Southern hip-hop moguls these types of as Learn P of No Restrict Documents and Birdman of Hard cash Cash Information, and J. Prince specifically mentored famous rap stars Drake, Scarface and Bun B alongside the way.

“When you speak about J. Prince, he is the godfather of this,” Grasp P advised ESPN. “When you communicate about hip-hop and even in this boxing issue, I have witnessed a lot of excellent managers, but I have not witnessed a Black person at this position, the place individuals comply with your leadership, men and women want to be with you and even a guy that is gonna fight for the men and women he loves.”

And Prince has fought for Stevenson. Together with co-supervisor Josh Dubin, Prince feels that the stage he’s on now is the just one that they’ve constantly envisioned for their boxer, ever due to the fact they started accomplishing enterprise. On Saturday, Stevenson (16-, 8 KOs) enters arguably the toughest bout of his vocation, against Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs). Herring’s WBO junior lightweight title will be on the line in the key celebration of a Top rated Rank card at the Condition Farm Arena in Atlanta.

“Right now is great timing. The get the job done has been put in. The development has taken place and it is time for us to go and claim and receive what is ours,” Prince explained. “We have been on the radar for rather a when and we allowed diverse items to acquire spot, but we’re searching forward to Atlanta — 1 of the areas that I appreciate dearly down in the South. And we are gonna deliver to this person an ass whooping of his everyday living. Straight up.”

Shakur Stevenson is co-managed by J. Prince and Josh Dubin. Abiel Garcia

PRINCE WAS Now profitable in his individual ideal effectively prior to boxing. When he founded Rap-A-Large amount Documents in 1987, he constructed the blueprint for Southern unbiased rap labels to comply with following suffering from enormous success with legendary artists this kind of as Scarface, the Geto Boys, Pimp C, Bun B, Devin the Dude, Tela and quite a few other people.

But he wasn’t pleased. Boxing was his initially adore. As a kid he needed to box, and as he grew up he needed to be in the presence of boxers. Finally he determined he preferred to break into the marketplace as a supervisor.

Close to the change of the century, Prince constructed a boxing gymnasium in Houston. Then, as he generally does with regards to the biggest conclusions in his life, he got on his knees to pray to God for a boxing globe winner.

2 Similar

In 1999, he traveled to Las Vegas and set up a conference with Mike Tyson, but his trip took an unexpected convert. When in a Vegas fitness center, Prince was regularly approached by a youthful Floyd Mayweather, who was a big admirer of his history label.

Mayweather exchanged details with Prince, and when Tyson ghosted him following their assembly, Prince commenced performing with Mayweather. Prince’s tenure with Mayweather lasted right up until 2003, ending thanks to a conflict more than funds, but for Prince the spotlight of the partnership was his encouragement of Mayweather to deal with an unbeaten Diego Corrales in 2001. Mayweather received by way of 10th-round TKO, after Mayweather dropped Corrales five instances.

“Me and Floyd is great proper now. We are neat. We converse. We have a mutual respect,” Prince claimed. “I’m happy of what he’s completed and I respect the chance that he gave me, mainly because he gave me my initially prospect in boxing and I ain’t seemed again because. … He tells me that he loves me and appreciates me all the time since he understands what I have completed for his profession as perfectly. We’re the two at a tranquil location in our lives.”

Functioning with Mayweather gave Prince believability to deal with other boxers, which include a quantity of other champions. Prince has guided Andre Ward, Winky Wright and now Stevenson. His latest steady at JPrince Boxing incorporates much more than 15 fighters, with Stevenson and mounting heavyweight Jared “Big Child” Anderson the biggest names.

“Just one of the key roles of a supervisor is to protect your fighter. And you have to defend your fighter in a blend of means,” Prince claimed. “Boxing is a cutthroat company, just like the amusement field, and a good deal of promoters have robbed fighters for many years and centuries. Just one of my aims as a manager was to [stop the process] that [promoters] experienced been doing for decades, like cheating [their boxers] out of their challenging-attained revenue after they get in the ring and possibility their lives.”

When Prince very first made a decision to make the changeover from audio mogul to boxing manager, Scarface experienced no doubt he would be successful, based on his observe record.

“Everything that James does is calculated. And it can be a lot of pondering and a whole lot of wisdom that arrives at the rear of his moves. Like, he will not just do s—on the whim,” Scarface reported. “The wins, the losses … almost everything. He already understands.”

Scarface credits Prince for serving to him make it in the rap marketplace, right after he was lifted by his grandparents in the hood in Houston. Just as Prince has been the guiding light in the professions of a lot of younger boxers, he appeared out for Scarface and served him thrive. They have had their ups and downs above the years, mostly through company, but that brotherhood is at the moment as sturdy as at any time.

“I could not have created it without the need of him and that’s vice versa when you ask him,” Scarface reported. “It wasn’t gonna transpire no other way.”



Boxing supervisor J. Prince speaks to ESPN about his shut bond with growing star Shakur Stevenson. Prince, also the CEO of Rap-A-Great deal documents, is well respected in the audio industry and has labored with Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward by means of the decades. Video clip

WARD WAS 18 and experienced just missing his father to a sudden heart attack in 2002 when he acquired a cold phone from Prince.

Ward had amazingly missed a national boxing match, and his really like for the sport was immediately fading devoid of his father’s assistance.

Prince had listened to about Ward’s prospective and tracked him down. Ward, open and honest with Prince on the contact, advised him he did not know if he needed to go after boxing any more. He just required to determine his life out.

“I consider your gift is to be in that ring and I would love to see you back in that ring,” Prince told Ward. “I never know you, but from what I’m hearing, it’s nothing at all we won’t be able to overcome.”

Their connection grew soon after that preliminary conversation. Just after Ward received gold at the 2004 Olympics, he determined to indication with Prince. Ward credits Prince as remaining a single of the individuals to assist him get back again on monitor in the midst of that dim period of time. Prince aided Ward fall again in like with the activity.

It was not generally ideal. Like with Mayweather, Prince and Ward also experienced an unpleasant economic dispute. In 2008, Ward filed a lawsuit against Prince just after a disagreement in excess of his deal. After being served, Prince filed a fit in return to defend his position.

The lawsuits were active for a lot less than a thirty day period, as they hashed issues out all through an powerful California meeting, with their pastors navigating the conversation for various hrs. In the conclude, they arrived to an settlement. When large amounts of revenue came into the photo, the discussion experienced bought intricate.

“I fought just as hard outside the house the ring, just as tricky as I did inside of the ring, and I just wished J to fully grasp that,” Ward claimed. “Unfortunately, it took a lawsuit to type of get his consideration, but at that position, following the lawsuits were being submitted, we commenced talking to a person yet another and not previous a person yet another.”

Prince has attained regard as a shrewd businessman about the many years, and regardless of some problems in regards to money bargains, Ward claims Prince genuinely cares about his fighters.

“J’s impression operates deep. His roots in the sport operate deep and the effect he has, a great deal of situations are not viewed a whole lot of periods, since they are offline,” Ward said. “Seeking to assist persons like myself, now Shakur and others with their particular existence, their funds, their taxes, their life, interactions that they are in and just encouraging them navigate all those varieties of issues, individuals issues you should not hit the headlines.”

J. Prince (right) has managed a quantity of boxing champions, together with Andre Ward (remaining) and Shakur Stevenson (heart). Courtesy of Shakur Stevenson

THE DEPTH TO which Prince cares about all those he manages operates deep. It is really now on exhibit with Stevenson, whose bond with Prince goes past organization to their own marriage.

Prince often meshes his hip-hop roots with boxing, like when he provides Stevenson and Scarface collectively for card games at his house.

“Oh, he is a star. He just are not able to play no spades,” Scarface explained with a chortle, even though speaking of Stevenson. “Helluva fighter, one particular of the best, but when he sits down at the spades table with me, he’s second most effective.”

By way of tales from Mayweather and Ward, Stevenson is knowledgeable of Prince’s no-nonsense name. Nonetheless, that has not pushed Stevenson to dread Prince. He respects him.

Their romantic relationship is one particular of numerous factors why Stevenson is in the position he’s in to problem Herring for his crown. Prince has offered Stevenson with not only the steerage he is desired, but the protection, as well. He’s protected Stevenson from having fights too before long, from earning negative investments, from allowing stardom get to his head.

After functioning with so quite a few stars of the sport in excess of the yrs, Prince did what he could to hold Stevenson centered on his jobs at hand. Not on a diamond chain.

“I came up as the oldest of 9. My total desire and everything commenced from me wanting to supply for my household,” Stevenson reported. “I guess, when you might be acquiring more mature and stuff like that, I was thinking about that chain and you’ll get rid of sight of specific items that are truly a lot more significant than everything. But anyone like J will put you ideal back again on monitor and present you what you happen to be doing this for. Just looking at how he is with his relatives, it can be just true enthusiasm. I want to be that sort of way with my loved ones when I get more mature and up in age.

“It’s way deeper than organization. J seems to be at me like relatives. It feels like to me that he treats me like his very own son,” he additional. “He’s obtained his personal sons out right here, so the reality that I really feel like he treats me like his very own son will make me really feel great and welcome to even be close to him.”