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US Olympian has M’weather’s eye

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Floyd Mayweather tipped American boxing’s hot prospect Shakur Stevenson to excel as a professional after the talented bantamweight eased into the semi-finals at the Rio Olympics on Tuesday.

Stevenson earned a unanimous points victory over fellow 19-year-old Tsendbaatar Erdenebat from Mongolia to secure at least bronze and justify his pre-Games tag as a serious gold-medal contender and future star.

He and Mayweather, a former welterweight world champion and now a promoter currently in Rio to check out the best amateur boxers on the planet, later met and Mayweather said: “He can do so many things in future if he wants to turn professional.

“We want a guy like this to be the face of Mayweather Promotions in future.’’

Stevenson’s slippery, defensive style has been compared to that of Mayweather, who was an Olympic medalist in 1996 before going on to become a boxing legend, retiring last year with an unbeaten 49-0 record.

“When I came out and saw Floyd Mayweather… somebody told me that Floyd had left Rio and wasn’t here any more, but then as I came up the hall I saw him talking and it was like… (wow),’’ Stevenson said after his victorious bout.

Stevenson – named after late rapper Tupac Shakur – may have been an easy winner, but he was not overly happy with his showing in front of Mayweather, who was announced to the Rio crowd and was wearing a white t-shirt with the letters “USA’’ on it.

“It was a B-minus performance. It was better than yesterday but I’ve got to box a little bit better,’’ said Stevenson after making it two comfortable wins in two.