UNDEFEATED American Shakur Stevenson is giving Jeremiah Nakathila the "respect he deserves" and not taking his threat lightly ahead of their WBO interim super featherweight title clash in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Speaking to award-winning combat sports columnist Kevin Iole ahead of the Nakathila showdown, the "undefeated young hungry lion" said he will not fall into the trap of undermining a rival just because he is 'unproven' to the American audience.
"I'm a student of the game. I've watched many upsets over the years," said Stevenson in his assessment of Nakathila.
"People will downplay a fighter, and think 'this fighter can't beat him' or 'who is this fighter? This guy is a bum.'
"And, they go in the ring and fight these fighters and they get beat. I watch all of that, and I know you should never sleep on nobody.
"You should never go in the ring thinking I'm just going to beat this guy up, he's a bum. I don't think that way.
"I think this guy put in a lot of work to come beat me, so that makes me get up in the morning and put the work in," Stevenson said.
He is aware of Nakathila's power which has resulted in 17 knockouts of the Namibian's 21 victories.
Nakathila's only loss came five years ago in a controversial points decision to Russian Evgeny Chuprakov in Moskow.
He has knocked out every one of his 10 opponents since. That's two more than Stevenson's overall tally of eight KOs in 15 fights.
"None of the fighters he knocked out is me. It's a whole different level," Stevenson said dismissively.
Nakathila's camp said they were not falling for the mind games and had adopted a media blackout of sorts since setting up camp in Las Vegas last week.
"We are actually not focusing on what Stevenson says and are only focusing on our own game plan," Nestar Tobias told The Namibian Sport.
The experienced trainer has unsuccessfully been in this position in the USA on three previous occasions - with Julius Indongo, Paulus Moses and Walter Kautondokwa - and says he is doing things differently this time around.
"We took this fight very seriously from day one and we are happy they don't undermine us. This will be a great fight," Tobias said.