A commitment to the Mayweather Way has transformed Badou Jack into an elite fighter

Kevin IoleCombat columnist

Badou Jack is “The Money Team” member you don’t often see at the fancy parties, or on the private jet, or getting some sun in one of the many exotic places Floyd Mayweather travels these days.

He’s the epitome of a blue-collar worker, a guy who has made himself into an elite fighter by fully committing himself to the Mayweather Way.

While many are distracted by Mayweather’s lavish lifestyle, what they didn’t see often during his 50-0 career was the extraordinary effort he gave at the gym.

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Jack is now the leader of “The Money Team” in that regard, as he is a lunch-pail fighter who has become world class by the sheer dint of his determination.

Badou Jack (22-1-1, 13 KOs) has become world class by the sheer dint of his determination. (Reuters)
Badou Jack (22-1-1, 13 KOs) has become world class by the sheer dint of his determination. (Reuters)

He’ll challenge Adonis Stevenson on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for the WBC light heavyweight championship. It’s the kind of fight Jack has routinely sought for years, and the type for which Stevenson has been criticized for failing to take.

“He’s a big puncher and boxing is all about taking risks,” Jack said. “I’m all about taking risks. Give me the best and biggest fights. Also, they have to pay me well, but I’m looking forward to fighting him. I’ve been asking for this fight before I even moved up to light heavyweight. Actually, right after I fought James DeGale, I said [Stevenson] was the next guy I wanted.

“I didn’t get him at the time. He wanted to fight [Andrzej] Fonfara again instead. … Now we’re here, though.”

Jack has shown throughout his career that he’s not adverse to getting into firefights. His bout with DeGale, an Olympic gold medalist, was one of 2017’s best scraps, a slugfest which could have gone either way.

That strategy, though, is not without considerable risk against Stevenson, who is one of boxing’s hardest punchers. Jack recognizes Stevenson’s talent, but says he’ll fight as he always has.

It could also pose a problem for Stevenson, who hasn’t had the kind of opposition in recent years that Jack has faced.

“It could be [a problem],” Jack said of Stevenson’s relatively light recent opposition. “He hasn’t fought the best, like I have fought the best in my weight class. Recently, I have fought the best competition. Tony Bellew, Chad Dawson, those guys, those guys he fought, they were from five years ago.

“I don’t look at it like that, though. I respect him and he’s a dangerous guy. I’ve prepared for the best Adonis Stevenson.”

Badou Jack (L) defeated Nathan Cleverly by TKO on Aug. 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)
Badou Jack (L) defeated Nathan Cleverly by TKO on Aug. 26, 2017 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Getty Images)

The best Stevenson is a quick power-puncher in both hands, sharp footwork and a great sense of distance. He gets flat-footed and tends to fall in love with the home run when he gets comfortable, but Jack aims to make him uncomfortable throughout.

It’s like trying to defuse a series of land mines, though, because one false step could be the end of the fight. Stevenson is that good.

“I think he’s a pretty good fighter,” Jack said. “He’s got a good stance, good range and he’s pretty quick. He’s not just a puncher. He’s one of the best fighters in the world right now. Obviously, he has one of the best punches in the world. He’s a good fighter, and just because people don’t like him [because] he’s been ducking a lot of people and stuff, they link that and their personal emotions up, but they forget he’s a pretty good fighter.”

Jack, too, is a pretty good fighter and one who is improving all the time. And given he’s heard plenty of critics throughout his career, he’s made it his mission to prove them wrong.

“I’m a competitor and if you say I can’t beat you, I want to fight to prove that I can,” he said. “I’m going to train hard and I will beat you. My last couple of fights, my last five fights, I think, I’ve been an underdog. I love that. Everyone likes to write me off, but I love it because [I get to prove them wrong].”

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