12 Rounds With … Badou Jack

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Former two-division champion breaks down Saturday night's 175-pound title bout with long-reigning WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, what it's like to work with Floyd Mayweather and how much longer he thinks he will fight.

Badou Jack was among eight siblings born in Stockholm, Sweden to a Swedish mother and a Gambian father. A 17-year old Jack walked into a Stockholm boxing gym and was hooked, leading to a 150-25 amateur record highlighted by five Swedish national titles and in 2008 a berth as Gambia’s flag-bearing, first-ever Olympic fighter.

A devoted, married father of two, “The Ripper” was signed by Floyd Mayweather at 11-0. Since being stopped in 61 seconds by Derek Edwards in February 2014, Jack  (22-1-2, 13 KOs) is 6-0-1 with two knockouts entering Saturday night’s Showtime-televised (10 p.m. ET/PT) 175-pound title fight with WBC champion Adonis Stevenson at Air Canada Center in Toronto.

Coming off a second-round KO of Andrzej Fonfara in June, Stevenson is after his fourth-straight knockout, and ninth title defense, and is 16-0 with 14 knockouts since a second-round stoppage loss to Darnell Boone in April 2010 that he avenged in March 2013.

Why the nickname “The Ripper?”

Back when I was an amateur, one of my coaches played off of my last name and started calling me “The Ripper.” When I turned pro, we used that name and it stuck.

Did you feel slighted that George Groves was favored over you when you fought?

Absolutely. Groves was my mandatory, and I felt like I still had something to prove. I knew he was a good fighter who had been in two big fights with Carl Froch.

But I felt like I was bigger, stronger, and with a better inside game and an even more improved defense. It was a pretty close fight, like 7-to-5 or 8-to-4.

I set the tone with that first-round knockdown, but I got too excited trying to load up on punches and sort of lost my range a little bit after that.

In the middle rounds, I got away from my game plan a little bit, but I was able to regain my composure and finish strong in another great fight.

How frustrating was the draw with Lucian Bute, given he later tested positive for a banned substance?

Even before that, I felt like I clearly landed the most punches and won that fight. I landed more shots to the head and to the body and clearly dominated him.

But we also know now that he was on steroids, which allowed him to take all of that punishment and still remain stronger.

I will say that I had some problems making weight for that fight and got a little tired. That’s the first fight in my whole career where I had fatigue over the last two rounds.

Was the birth of your daughter and first child a factor before fighting Bute?

My daughter, Malaniyah, was born April 14, 2016 which was two weeks before the fight, so there was a lot going on. I went straight from the hospital the morning that she was born into a media workout.

It was a little bit of a distraction because we were also moving into a new house, and I had never experienced that before.

That just further inspired me, and she’s 2 now. I’m now a father of two, with my son, Malik, being born in March.

The kids mean everything to me, and I fight for them, now. As a two-time champion, I have nothing else to prove, but I do want to continue to make a better life for them, now.

What are your reflections on your battle with DeGale?

That was a marquee fight and a Fight-Of-The-Year candidate. It sold out Barclays Center, and it had two knockdowns.

He dropped me in the first round, but that was more of a balance shot and I wasn’t hurt at all. I got back up and landed all the cleaner, harder shots and was the aggressor all night, dropping him in the 12th.

My fight was the toughest DeGale’s had, and he’s not the same fighter that he was before that. He really took a beating.

I was hyped up and would have liked to try to unify at 168, but that was also my last fight at 168 because I couldn’t make weight anymore. I guess it wasn’t meant to be.

Floyd’s been a man of his word throughout our time together, and he’s had my back, literally, win, lose or draw. Not only that, he’s a good friend and I appreciate everything he’s done for me. Two-division World Champion Badou Jack

What was the challenge in debuting at 175 against Nathan Cleverly?

Right after the DeGale fight, I realized that I was losing too much by staying at 168, so I asked for the Stevenson fight right after that, but Stevenson wasn’t interested, so Cleverly called me out and I accepted.

I knew I was going to be stronger and way more powerful at 175 because I'm a naturally big guy and I'm feeling much more comfortable and faster at this weight.

Floyd told me that he could get the fight with Cleverly, but that I would have to vacate it right after I won it and “Don’t worry, I’m going to get you Stevenson, next, anyway.” That was a bigger money fight anyway.

Will having beaten a pair of switch-hitters in Dirrell and DeGale as well as a southpaw in Bute be instrumental in addressing Stevenson’s left-handed, power-oriented style?

All of those fights will probably help me, given that all of my past five fights were against champions, back-to-back. But as a southpaw, Bute not only has a different style, but Stevenson is way more powerful.

I think I have more experience in bigger fights compared to Stevenson, and I think that’s going to be a factor. I’ll be prepared for his power-punching, speed and for a guy that runs or comes forward.

Do you feel that you will need to knock out Stevenson given that you’re fighting on his home turf?

I want to knock him out, and, hopefully, we do that so that I don’t have to deal with all of the BS that we have in the past. A lot of people say they don’t like him over there.

I’ve been hearing, “Please, beat him.” That don’t make a difference whether they’re rooting for him or me, but, hopefully, they treat us fairly.

Given that you turn 35 in October, how long do you want to keep fighting?

I’m not going to say I’ll fight until I’m 40 or beyond, and I’m not going to say this is my last fight. I’ll take it one fight at a time. I could go five or 10 more fights, you never know.

I’ll focus on Stevenson, for now, and then we’ll see what’s next. But boxing is a short, violent career, and I want to make as much money as possible to be able to take care of my family.

What has Mayweather meant to your career?

Floyd’s been a man of his word throughout our time together, and he’s had my back, literally, win, lose or draw. Not only that, he’s a good friend and I appreciate everything he’s done for me.

Floyd’s given me all of the opportunities and the big title fights, so I have nothing to complain about. For example, I wanted to fight Stevenson after Cleverly, and he made sure that it happened.

I don’t want tune-ups or bulls—t fights. I want the biggest and most exciting fights out there. That’s one thing I think Floyd likes about me is I don’t cry or complain about the fights, I just show up and do my job.

For a closer look at Stevenson vs Jack, check out our fight page.

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