Four of John Jackson’s last five victories have come via the judges’ scorecards, but don’t let the lack of stoppages fool you: “Dah Rock” packs some serious power.
Just ask the 14 opponents whom Jackson stopped in his first 16 professional fights. Better yet, ask the sparring partner whom Jackson separated from his senses during a recent workout.
Despite his obvious KO abilities, though, the stone-fisted 27-year-old doesn’t plan to seek out a stoppage Saturday night in his battle with Jermell Charlo (27-0, 12 KOs) for a vacant 154-pound world title. The Charlo-Jackson showdown is part of a 154-pound championship tripleheader from the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (Showtime, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
“Of course, the body attack is always an important strategy, especially early in the fight,” says John Jackson (20-2, 15 KOs). “But we’re going to attack him upstairs, downstairs and exploit everything. We’re strong, we’re in shape, we’re focused and we’re going to bring it.”
Jackson was 13-0 with 12 KOs and had stopped four consecutive opponents prior to losing a unanimous decision to Willie Nelson in September 2012. He bounced back to win five consecutive fights (three KOs) from December 2012 to December 2013, then matched up against veteran southpaw Andy Lee six months later.
Jackson put Lee, an eventual 160-pound world champion, on his backside in Round 1 and was dominating the fight before getting caught and stopped in the fifth round.
“There’s a reason why he’s called ‘Dah Rock,’ because he comes in and he throws a lot of rocks,” says Jackson’s father and trainer, Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, a former two-division world champion who was renowned for his knockout power.
Although more of a boxer-puncher, Jermell Charlo has flashed power of his own on his way up the ranks. Among his more notable stoppage victories were a fifth-round knockout of Denis Douglin (then 14-1), an eighth-round KO of Harry Joe Yorgey (then 25-1-1) and, in his most recent bout on Halloween, a sixth-round TKO of Joachim Alcine (35-7-2).
Additionally, prior to beating Alcine, Charlo earned a hard-fought 10-round unanimous decision over Vanes Martirosyan (36-2-1, 21 KOs). Martirosyan will challenge Erislandy Lara (22-2-2, 13 KOs) for Lara’s 154-pound crown in Saturday’s main event, which follows Charlo’s twin brother, Jermall Charlo (23-0, 18 KOs), defending his title against onetime 154-pound champ Austin Trout (30-2, 17 KOs).
To prepare for one of Jermell Charlo’s biggest strengths—speed—Jackson trained with a series of sparring partners whom he says gave him different looks similar to what he believes he'll see come Saturday night.
“We’ve got boxers, guys who are sneaky and guys who are really fast so I can keep my eyes on his quick hands, match his speed with my speed and his movement with mine, and able to react,” says Jackson, a native of Saint Thomas in the Virgin Islands. “I’m focusing on maintaining sustained pressure, because I know he’s going to be, not necessarily running, but trying to box me.
“So when he’s backing up and looking for the counters, I’m going to just keep it on him, cut off the ring, be able to get to him and win rounds to hopefully wear him down for later on in the fight. We’re ready for anything he does.”
Says Julian Jackson: “We’ve been studying a variety of [Charlo’s] fights, even those from earlier in his career. We’re going to definitely break him down and make adjustments to whatever he does.
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime. We’re taking nothing for granted.”