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


EMOTIONALLY HIGH OFF an enormous payday, Shakur Stevenson felt prefer it was time to get iced out.

He had simply claimed the WBO interim junior light-weight title after cruising past Jeremiah Nakathila. His twenty fourth birthday was proper across the nook. So, Stevenson determined to spoil himself with a present: a chunky, diamond-encrusted chain together with his initials, SS, as a flashy attraction.

Stevenson wished to splurge. However, his co-manager James Prince, aka J. Prince, wished to put issues in perspective.

“I wanted to go buy another chain. But I didn’t have a house yet. I didn’t have none of that set, so he sat me down and pointed me in the direction of getting a house,” Stevenson mentioned of Prince. “That’s more important than going out here to buy a couple of chains and jewelry and watches.

“I used to be considering, ‘I’m attempting to be out right here trying good. I’m tryna have the chain,'” he explained. “But I really listened to him and I really feel like that was one of many smartest strikes to do now that I’m within the scenario I’m in. It feels good to have my very own spot that I can come to, I stay at and I really feel safe. He undoubtedly guided me in the appropriate route.”

That relationship and the guidance that came with it began a number of years ago when Stevenson, then an amateur boxer, met Prince through a mutual friend, Antonio Leonard. Stevenson then played pool with Prince, stayed at his home and bonded through casual conversation.

They grew nearer as Stevenson went by way of the 2016 Olympic expertise of successful a silver medal. Stevenson says Prince by no means chased him strongly to turn into his supervisor, no less than not outwardly, however a bond was as a substitute shaped by way of conversations about boxing historical past. Gradually, talks emerged of private enterprise plans, and it was the personable nature of Prince that ultimately made Stevenson need to signal with him.

Stevenson, initially from New Jersey, now lives in Houston — the identical metropolis the place Prince constructed his empire as one of the crucial revered males within the hip-hop business as founder and CEO of Rap-A-Lot Records.

His enterprise acumen helped encourage fellow Southern hip-hop moguls similar to Master P of No Limit Records and Birdman of Cash Money Records, and J. Prince immediately mentored legendary rap stars Drake, Scarface and Bun B alongside the way in which.

“When you talk about J. Prince, he’s the godfather of this,” Master P informed ESPN. “When you talk about hip-hop and even in this boxing thing, I’ve seen a lot of great managers, but I haven’t seen a Black man at this position, where people follow your leadership, people want to be with you and even a guy that’s gonna fight for the people he loves.”

And Prince has fought for Stevenson. Along with co-manager Josh Dubin, Prince feels that the stage he is on now is the one which they’ve all the time envisioned for his or her boxer, ever since they started doing enterprise. On Saturday, Stevenson (16-0, 8 KOs) enters arguably the hardest bout of his profession, towards Jamel Herring (23-2, 11 KOs). Herring’s WBO junior light-weight title will likely be on the road in the primary occasion of a Top Rank card on the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

“Right now is perfect timing. The work has been put in. The development has taken place and it’s time for us to go and claim and receive what’s ours,” Prince mentioned. “We’ve been on the radar for quite a while and we allowed different things to take place, but we’re looking forward to Atlanta — one of the places that I love dearly down in the South. And we’re gonna deliver to this man an ass whooping of his life. Straight up.”

PRINCE WAS ALREADY profitable in his personal proper nicely earlier than boxing. When he based Rap-A-Lot Records in 1987, he constructed the blueprint for Southern impartial rap labels to comply with after experiencing large success with legendary artists similar to Scarface, the Geto Boys, Pimp C, Bun B, Devin the Dude, Tela and many others.

But he wasn’t happy. Boxing was his past love. As a child he wished to field, and as he grew up he wished to be within the presence of boxers. Ultimately he determined he wished to break into the business as a supervisor.

Around the flip of the century, Prince constructed a boxing gymnasium in Houston. Then, as he typically does concerning the most important choices in his life, he bought on his knees to pray to God for a boxing world champion.

In 1999, he traveled to Las Vegas and arrange a gathering with Mike Tyson, however his journey took an surprising flip. While in a Vegas gymnasium, Prince was repeatedly approached by a younger Floyd Mayweather, who was a giant fan of his document label.

Mayweather exchanged info with Prince, and when Tyson ghosted him after their assembly, Prince started working with Mayweather. Prince’s tenure with Mayweather lasted till 2003, ending due to a battle over funds, however for Prince the spotlight of the partnership was his encouragement of Mayweather to face an unbeaten Diego Corrales in 2001. Mayweather gained through Tenth-round TKO, after Mayweather dropped Corrales 5 instances.

“Me and Floyd is cool right now. We’re cool. We communicate. We have a mutual respect,” Prince mentioned. “I’m proud of what he’s done and I appreciate the opportunity that he gave me, because he gave me my first opportunity in boxing and I ain’t looked back since. … He tells me that he loves me and appreciates me all the time because he understands what I’ve done for his career as well. We’re both at a peaceful spot in our lives.”

Working with Mayweather gave Prince credibility to handle different boxers, together with plenty of different champions. Prince has guided Andre Ward, Winky Wright and now Stevenson. His present secure at JPrince Boxing contains greater than 15 fighters, with Stevenson and rising heavyweight Jared “Big Baby” Anderson the most important names.

“One of the key roles of a manager is to protect your fighter. And you have to protect your fighter in a combination of ways,” Prince mentioned. “Boxing is a cutthroat business, just like the entertainment industry, and a lot of promoters have robbed fighters for decades and centuries. One of my objectives as a manager was to [stop the process] that [promoters] had been doing for years, like cheating [their boxers] out of their hard-earned money after they get in the ring and risk their lives.”

When Prince first determined to make the transition from music mogul to boxing supervisor, Scarface had little doubt he would achieve success, primarily based on his monitor document.

“Everything that James does is calculated. And it’s a lot of thinking and a lot of wisdom that comes behind his moves. Like, he don’t just do s—on the whim,” Scarface mentioned. “The wins, the losses … everything. He already knows.”

Scarface credit Prince for serving to him make it within the rap business, after he was raised by his grandparents within the hood in Houston. Just as Prince has been the guiding mild within the careers of many younger boxers, he seemed out for Scarface and helped him thrive. They’ve had their ups and downs through the years, primarily by way of enterprise, however that brotherhood is at the moment as robust as ever.

“I couldn’t have made it without him and that’s vice versa when you ask him,” Scarface mentioned. “It wasn’t gonna happen no other way.”



Boxing supervisor J. Prince speaks to ESPN about his shut bond with rising star Shakur Stevenson. Prince, additionally the CEO of Rap-A-Lot information, is nicely revered within the music business and has labored with Floyd Mayweather and Andre Ward by way of the years. Video

WARD WAS 18 and had simply misplaced his father to a sudden coronary heart assault in 2002 when he acquired a chilly name from Prince.

Ward had surprisingly missed a nationwide boxing event, and his love for the game was rapidly fading with out his father’s steering.

Prince had heard about Ward’s potential and tracked him down. Ward, open and trustworthy with Prince on the decision, informed him he did not know if he wished to pursue boxing anymore. He simply wished to determine his life out.

“I think your gift is to be in that ring and I would love to see you back in that ring,” Prince informed Ward. “I don’t know you, but from what I’m hearing, it’s nothing we can’t overcome.”

Their relationship grew after that preliminary interplay. After Ward gained gold on the 2004 Olympics, he determined to signal with Prince. Ward credit Prince as being one of many of us to assist him get again on monitor within the midst of that darkish interval. Prince helped Ward fall again in love with the game.

It wasn’t all the time good. Like with Mayweather, Prince and Ward additionally had an uncomfortable monetary dispute. In 2008, Ward filed a lawsuit towards Prince after a disagreement over his contract. After being served, Prince filed a go well with in return to defend his place.

The lawsuits have been energetic for lower than a month, as they hashed issues out throughout an intense California assembly, with their pastors navigating the dialog for a number of hours. In the tip, they got here to an settlement. When massive quantities of cash got here into the image, the dialog had bought sophisticated.

“I fought just as hard outside the ring, just as hard as I did inside the ring, and I just wanted J to understand that,” Ward mentioned. “Unfortunately, it took a lawsuit to sort of get his attention, but at that point, after the lawsuits were filed, we started speaking to one another and not past one another.”

Prince has gained respect as a shrewd businessman through the years, and regardless of some issues with regard to monetary offers, Ward says Prince really cares about his fighters.

“J’s impact runs deep. His roots in the game run deep and the impact he has, a lot of times are not seen a lot of times, because they’re offline,” Ward mentioned. “Trying to help individuals like myself, now Shakur and others with their personal life, their finances, their taxes, their lifestyles, relationships that they’re in and just helping them navigate those kinds of things, those things don’t hit the headlines.”

THE DEPTH TO which Prince cares about these he manages runs deep. It’s now on show with Stevenson, whose bond with Prince goes past enterprise to their private relationship.

Prince typically meshes his hip-hop roots with boxing, like when he brings Stevenson and Scarface collectively for card video games at his dwelling.

“Oh, he’s a star. He just can’t play no spades,” Scarface mentioned with fun, whereas talking of Stevenson. “Helluva fighter, one of the best, but when he sits down at the spades table with me, he’s second best.”

Through tales from Mayweather and Ward, Stevenson is conscious of Prince’s no-nonsense status. However, that hasn’t pushed Stevenson to concern Prince. He respects him.

Their relationship is one in all many explanation why Stevenson is within the place he is in to problem Herring for his crown. Prince has offered Stevenson with not solely the steering he is wanted, however the safety, too. He’s protected Stevenson from taking fights too quickly, from making unhealthy investments, from letting stardom get to his head.

After working with so many stars of the game through the years, Prince did what he may to preserve Stevenson centered on his duties at hand. Not on a diamond chain.

“I came up as the oldest of nine. My whole dream and everything started from me wanting to provide for my family,” Stevenson mentioned. “I guess, when you’re getting older and stuff like that, I was thinking about that chain and you’ll lose sight of certain things that are really more important than anything. But somebody like J will put you right back on track and show you what you’re doing this for. Just seeing how he is with his family, it’s just real motivation. I want to be that type of way with my family when I get older and up in age.

“It’s method deeper than enterprise. J seems at me like household. It seems like to me that he treats me like his personal son,” he added. “He’s bought his personal sons out right here, so the truth that I really feel like he treats me like his personal son makes me really feel good and welcome to even be round him.”

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