It is a lonely time when a pugilist unexpectedly finds themselves on the canvas. Their faculties rudely interrupted as they try to make sense of it all. The crowd is a blur, a faint voice counting numbers, “one, two, three…..”
They get up but their legs have left them. Instead of muscle they are reduced to jelly. “What the hell are you doing?” says the mind, “Mayday, Mayday..” says the legs..”What the hell is happening to my balance?” counters Mr. Equilibrium
At that exact moment the fighter wobbles into the ropes. They try to fight on but their legs give out and they fall again face first. They get up again but it’s no use, legs gone, they wobble again into the ropes as the referee grabs them and waves off the fight.
That fighter was unbeaten Badou Jack (22-1 -2 13 KO) back in 2014. A short right hand courtesy of Derek Edwards landed directly on the point of Jack’s chin and at the time, a rising star watched a possible title elimination bout with James DeGale derailed after the TKO loss.
In life, we are faced with many challenges and roadblocks. Some expected, some not, but it’s how we face adversity that ultimately determines our destiny. Boxing is often a metaphor for life. A loss does not define you, it defines you when refuse to go on.
There are high expectations when you are promoted by a legend and the upset to Edwards could have derailed his career had he let it, instead, he tightened things up and it is obvious he committed himself to be the best he could be. If you’ve been watching Jack since the Edwards fight you can see it. He has gotten better fight after fight, adding a different wrinkle each time out. Since losing unexpectedly by TKO to Edwards , Jack has gone 6-0-1. A true definition of a champion.
Further, his run from Dirrell to Cleverly has been quite impressive. Showcasing something different each time out, speed, movement, combinations, very systematic and calculated in his approach. He beat a string of quality fighters/champions who have given others hell and did it in succession.
Jack has become a different/better fighter than he was even just a few years ago. Not a lot of fighters have the ability to continuously improve. You know what most fighters will bring fight after fight, but with Jack, he seems to redevelop himself in the ring during the fight. He has a stong mindset which is aligned with his physical skills in executing the fight plan.
Going into Saturday night’s fight against Adonis Stevenson (29-1 24 KO), I look for Jack’s ever improving jab to set the tone. His body work is top shelf but he is mastering the jab now to go along with his underrated movement. With his expanding and improving skill set in all phases, it is his jab that he works behind which sets up everything else. He will need the stick to keep Stevenson at distance.
Stevenson is a southpaw; however, 2 out of the last three Jack opponents, DeGale and Bute are southpaws. Probably not a coincidence that Team Jack’s journey towards Stevenson has been very calculated.
Ok, we all know that Jack needs to be mindful of Stevenson’s left. That said, once thing that I’ve noticed as I went back and watched film on Jack is that since the Edwards fight, he holds the right hand very high and is disciplined in his approach. He uses it for defense but is very adept at firing it for offense when he needs to. Something to keep an eye on Saturday night.
If Sakio Bika can take Stevenson the distance with a limited skill set, Jack should find many opportunities for success. Further, on fight night, Stevenson would have had only four fights in just over three years.
Watching film on Stevenson’s KO loss to Darnell Boone back in 2010 and the similar knockdown he took at the hands of Andrzej Fonfara, Jack will have opportunities. It was a left jab followed by a sharp right that gave Stevenson his only loss and although he beat Fonfara, he was knocked down with almost the same combination. In watching Jack and reviewing film, I have observed the same punch selection used by Jack against the previous two southpaws. Again, something to watch on Saturday night.
In watching Stevenson over the years and reviewing tape for this piece, I compare it to a broken record. He does the same thing over and over. Jab high, jab high, jab low, power left, move in, move out, jab high, jab low, power left. Not to be disrespectful to Stevenson, he has held the WBC World Light Heavyweight Belt since 2013, it works for him. That said, we’ll see if he can execute the same strategy with an adversary with many tools in the tool belt.
I look for Jack to frustrate Stevenson with his movement and combination punching. Jack’s speed also will be a factor. Stevenson has not fought anyone who possessed the overall skill set that Jack has at a similar point in their career.
I look for Stevenson to come out strong and try to impose his will but will be surprised by Jack’s movement and counter punching. They will have some close rounds and Jack may even be the victim of a flash knockdown but slowly Jack will begin to take control of the fight pushing Stevenson back.
One glaring observation in reviewing film on Stevenson is that he has difficulty fighting backwards. As Jack begins to move forward and take the fight to Stevenson in the middle rounds, Stevenson will be less effective with his approach. His power will weaken as he moves backwards and the body work that Jack will put in early and often will contribute as well.
If he can stay out of a firefight and away from Stevenson’s left, Jack will relegate the champ to a one-dimensional fighter. The call here is Jack by MD but only because I do not believe he can get a UD in Stevenson’s Canada.
It is a joyous time when the ring announcer announces “And The New!!!” Getting off the deck to win at life.