Badou Jack grew up in a country that banned professional boxing. The Swede now holds the WBC super-middleweight belt.
Two years before Jack debuted professionally, the homeland of famed real boxer Ingemar Johansson and famed fake boxer Dolph Lundgren again allowed men to punch each other for pay. But after three early fights in Sweden, Jack opted to go abroad in search of an audience. Like other obstacles, Jack shrugs off the peculiar legal impediment to his success. “Amatuer boxing has always been legal,” the Stockholm-born sweet science practitioner tells Breitbart Sports. “It hasn’t been that big. There’s always been boxing there. It just hasn’t been that big.”
The biggest mouth (Shannon Briggs) and the biggest star (Floyd Mayweather) in boxing mentored Jack. But you wouldn’t know it from talking to the understated Swede. He neither displays the bling of the latter nor unleashes the blather of the former.
“Everybody’s different,” Jack reflects. “A lot of these young guys, everybody wants to be like Floyd. They copycat somebody that they’re not. I try to be myself. What’s working for me is let my fists talk in the ring.”
Jack speaks his fistic language this Saturday night on Showtime against James DeGale, a flashy Brit. When asked about calling his opponent a “diva,” Jack dismisses such chatter as a stunt engineered by public-relations flacks. He merely presented the IBF titlist with a “diva” crown. He never actually said it.
“I’m not a trash talker,” he insists. “That’s not me.”
Rather than indulge the temptation to denigrate Saturday night’s opponent, he calls the 23-1 DeGale “elusive” and “athletic.” The humble Jack comes out of his shell, if just a bit, when describing his own skill-set. “I can do it all,” Jack maintains. “I can box. I can punch. I can fight on the inside. I can fight on the outside. I can do a little bit of everything.”
The winner of the title unification bout on Showtime undoubtedly wins bragging rights as the best in the division. But the weight class, overlooked since the Super Six World Boxing Classic and not must-see-pay-TV since the tail end of Joe Calzaghe’s career, now ranks as lower class on the boxing economics scale.
So after loudly dispensing of DeGale, the subdued Scandinavian looks to become a bigger star, quite literally. With Adonis Stephenson, Sergey Kovalev, and Andre Ward populating the light-heavyweight division, 175 makes dollars, so it makes sense. “Yeah, I’m a pretty big guy for my weight class,” the six-foot-one Jack confesses to Breitbart Sports. “The plan is to move up to 175.”
He looks to enter the ring with a bigger body after defeating DeGale. Don’t expect him to climb through the ropes with a bigger head.
“I try to be different,” he divulges. “I try to do my talking in the ring.”