Anthony Dirrell will be defending his 168-pound title Friday night against Badou Jack, who indirectly may have the champion’s older brother to thank for the opportunity.
It was during a sparring session three years ago against Andre Dirrell that Jack impressed Floyd Mayweather Jr., who later signed Jack to a promotional contract.
“We were in Floyd’s gym, and I did pretty good against Andre when I only had about 10 fights,” Jack said. “Floyd told me, ‘You know what? You can really fight, and you’re going to be a champion one day.’ We kept in contact. Then I had some managerial problems. I met up with Floyd and he was like, ‘I want you to sign with Mayweather Promotions.’”
Badou Jack (18-1-1, 12 KOs) will challenge Anthony Dirrell (27-0-1, 22 KOs) at Chicago’s UIC Pavilion on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
“It’s funny that I’m fighting [Andre’s] brother, but I guess that God works in mysterious ways," said Jack, a native of Sweden who now lives in Las Vegas. "I don’t know if he’s nervous or whether he’s just trying to hype up the fight, but he’s been talking a lot of trash."
Dirrell’s goal is not to go 12 rounds again, having done so for the first time in his career in his last two bouts.
Dirrell won his title with a unanimous decision over Sakio Bika in August after having battled Bika to a draw in December 2013.
“We’ve trained for 12 rounds, but I want a knockout,” Dirrell said. “I’m going to always look for the knockout, and this fight is going to end in a knockout.”
Jack was knocked out in 61 seconds by Derek Edwards in February 2014. Edwards subsequently lost a 12-round unanimous decision to Andre Dirrell in December.
“[Jack is] nothing spectacular. He’s just a fighter," Anthony Dirrell said. "I’m going to go in there and stick to my game plan, not rush anything and take it however it comes.”
After gaining a sixth-round technical knockout of Francisco Sierra in December, Jack said he plans to emulate the physical style Bika employed against Dirrell, who Jack called “probably the best guy I’ve faced so far.”
“Those were rough, tough, ugly fights with Bika, more like brawls than a boxing match,” Jack said. “If a guy like Bika can get into [Dirrell’s] head, then he’s maybe not the smartest fighter.
“Anthony Dirrell is in for a real fight because I’ll be ready for whatever he does. It’s now or never—everything I've dreamed about. I’m planning to take full advantage of this opportunity. It might never come again.”