Q&A: Badou Jack
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Badou Jack looks to make a successful first defense of his WBC super middleweight title when he faces mandatory challenger George Groves on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Andre Berto at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on Saturday.
At the press conference to announce the fight last month in Los Angeles, Groves told Jack, “You can’t hide behind Mayweather and the Money Team, it’ll be just you and him in the ring fight night.”
Jack (19-1-1, 12 knockouts) has heard similar comments levelled against him in the past and takes them in his stride.
“Same thing with Anthony Dirrell, he tried to intimidate me, talking a lot of s__t, bringing his boys to the weigh in and stuff. That doesn’t scare me, that’s what I do for a living,” Jack told RingTV.com. “I don’t talk no trash. I let me fists talk in the fight. He can talk all that talk but he’s got to show up and fight too.
“I’m not hiding behind Floyd or trying to compare myself to Floyd, he’s just my promoter – he’s helped me but I’m in there to fight. It might look easy from the outside [but] when he comes in the ring he’ll find out.”
The Swedish-born fighter sees strengths and weaknesses in the Englishman’s game.
“I think he’s pretty fast, it looks like he has decent power,” said the 31-year-old titleholder, “but he looks kind of reckless sometimes. I think I’m the smarter fighter with better technique.”
As well as Jack-Groves, the pay-per-view undercard to Mayweather-Berto will feature the latest instalment of the Puerto Rico-Mexico rivalry when WBO junior lightweight titlist Rocky Martinez faces Orlando Salido in a rematch of their hotly contested fight from earlier this year. Ishe Smith faces Vanes Martirosyan in a junior middleweight crossroads bouts. The Showtime Pay-Per-View show begins at 8:00 p.m. ET/PT and at 2:00 a.m. on BoxNation in the UK.
RingTV.com – What are your thoughts on facing Groves?
Badou Jack – It’s a very good fight for me. He got a little bit of a name back in the UK. He’s a good fighter so that’s what [I want to do], keep fighting the top guys. For me to beat him, after that the sky’s the limit and then we got to start making the real money.
RTV – The fight was originally going to be Aug. 22 but was move three weeks later to the undercard of Mayweather-Berto, correct?
BJ – That was the plan from the beginning, that’s what I thought. I just had a fight at the end of April, so I was like, ‘I think they’re probably going to put me on Floyd’s next card’. Then they said Aug. 22. We’ve been getting ready but we have to slow it down a little bit. I’m excited, it’s a very big card. I’ve been on Floyd’s cards a couple times but not on pay per view. This might be Floyd’s last fight, to be a part of that is awesome. We’ve been working hard in the gym, staying humble, just get in there and win. I’m really excited. I want the fight to be tomorrow, I just want to get in there and fight.
RTV – Do you really think this will be Floyd’s last fight?
BJ – Who else has he got to fight? But money talks, who knows. I’m not a part of the business thing of what he does. He’s getting older, he’s got a lot of money. I don’t knowÔÇªit could be his last fight [laughs]. I don’t know.
RTV – You beat Anthony Dirrell for the title back in April. Tell us about that fight?
BJ – I knew he was going to come out strong in the first couple rounds but I knew I was the bigger stronger guy. I’m a better fighter; I exposed his inside game and took the fight to him. He probably just looked at one fight, the fight I lost [vs. Derek Edwards] when I threw a lazy jab and got caught with a lucky punch. He might have thought it was gonna be an easy fight, but that’s the fighter I am, I’m a real fighter and I showed him.
RTV – You were stopped in a round by Derek Edwards. Do you feel people wrote you off at that point?
BJ – To be honest it helped me to become a better fighter – smarter. It was just a bad night. It was a lucky punch that landed, anything can happen in boxing. Everybody who knows boxing knows that I’m a better fighter than that guy and I proved it in last three fights. He just caught me with a good shot. It helped me, people were overlooking me. Sky’s the limit; I’m the world champion. That guy’s nothing right now.
RTV – What did it mean to you to win the title?
BJ – Yeah, finally all the hard work I’ve put in since I started boxing 14 years ago. Finally all the sacrifices, the running, the sparring, the ups and downs, the Olympics. But now it also feels like this is just the beginning. Now it starts for real, you’ve got to start making money, now you’ve got to start getting the big fights. I heard a lot of people want to fight me now, so that’s good, Lucian Bute, [Julio Cesar] Chavez Jr., all of them guys, sky’s the limit. I’m so happy.
RTV – Your father is from Gambia and your mother is from Sweden, which is where you were born before moving to America. Can you tell us about your younger days?
BJ – I started kinda late in boxing when I was 17, 18. I had 150 amateur fights back in Sweden. I fought on the Swedish national team; I fought all over the world. In 2008, the Beijing Olympics, I decided to make my dad proud and fight for Gambia. They never had an Olympic boxer ever. I qualified for them. I was the flag bearer at the opening ceremony. That was a great feeling. They’re very proud of me, especially now because of my pro career. I haven’t been there in 15 years; I’m going back this year.
RTV – So you might be to Gambia what Manny Pacquiao is to the Philippines?
BJ – [Laughs] Yeah, who knows!
RTV – A week after your fight Erik Skoglund will fight Oleksandr Cherviak. It is scheduled for 12 rounds and will be the first major male boxing contest to take place in Sweden since it was banned in 1968?
BJ – Yeah, it’s good for them. My career is here now. It doesn’t get any bigger than fighting at the MGM [Grand] in Las Vegas.
RTV – Are you popular in Sweden?
BJ – Yeah, especially because I won the title. I was back home two months ago, everybody came to the airport. All I did for three weeks was media stuff, photo shoots, interviews, TV shows. So absolutely, they showed me a lot of love. My career is here and hopefully one day I can speak to Floyd and we can do a show back home and I can defend my title.
RTV – What are your thoughts on the super middleweight division?
BJ – It’s a very hot division. There’s a lot of big fights for me after the George Groves fight. Sooner or later I’m probably going to be going up to light heavyweight. I’m getting older, I’m going to be 32 in October, my body is growing. I think it’s going to be harder to make the weight, maybe next year, who knows. I’ve got a couple of fights left [at super middleweight].
RTV – How easily do you make super middleweight?
BJ – I make it pretty easy. The last fight I had I had a long time to take the weight off but I mean it’s not like I’m fat when I walk around, I’m like 193-195 and then I go down to 168. It’s OK but I think light heavyweight, as far as styles [will be good for me]. I like the bigger stronger guys, I fight better. We’ll see. Right now we’re focusing on George Groves and maybe two, three more fights at super middleweight and then we’ll get up to light heavyweight and get a title over there.
RTV – How did you become part of The Money Team?
BJ – I fought in Sweden, I think it was my third fight and Shannon Briggs, the former heavyweight champion, he was there as a guest at the fight. He liked my style, we exchanged numbers and after that he signed me. He’s the main guy that brought me to America. I stayed with him and signed with his promotional company for a little while and they went out of business and I was signed with Lou DiBella and Warriors Boxing, they co-promoter me for like a year-and-a-half. After that I went to Floyd’s gym and I sparred with Anthony Dirrell’s brother, Andre Dirrell. That’s how it all started. I’m not going to say I got the better of the sparring session but I did really good and I knocked someone out in the gym the day after and Floyd was like, “This guy can fight, I like him.” After that Floyd bought me out of the contract with Lou DiBella and I’ve been with him ever since.
RTV – Away from boxing what do you enjoy doing?
BJ – I’m married so I like to be with my wife. I like to hang out with my friends and family. I like to travel a lot. I’m actually going to Jamaica a couple of days after the fight on vacation and Gambia in December. I love to travel, that’s my main thing.
RTV – In closing, do you have a message for George Groves?
BJ – I hope he’s ready to fight because it’s probably going to be the toughest fight of his career and it’s gonna be the best fight of that night. He can talk whatever he wants to talk but when he’s in front of me it’s only me and him nobody can help him.