Badou Jack returns on Tyson-Jones card, seeks Jean Pascal rematch, discusses move to cruiserweight
Two guys in their 50s will square off in an exhibition match at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Saturday, but before they do The Ring’s No. 6 rated light heavyweight will see action for the first time in 2020.
Badou Jack, a former WBC 168-pound titleholder, will square off against one Blake McKernin in an eight-round cruiserweight attraction prior to Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. shaking off decades worth of ring rust. It’s a tune-up for the Las Vegas-based Swede, with all available proceeds going to the Badou Jack Foundation.
“I’ve got two kids myself and this is a passion,” Jack (22-3-3, 13 KOs) told The Ring. “Basically, we help refugee kids and people living in poor or war-torn countries. I’m a Muslim, and to serve God you have to serve your fellow man. I set this up when I was world champion and why not use that platform for something positive?
“I donate a little bit of my fight purses to the foundation and especially with this fight. This is a huge event, not a typical boxing event, so this one is for my foundation. It’s not about me, and after I pay my team and stuff, the money will go to the foundation.”
McKernin (13-0, 6 KOs) hails from California and, unlike Jack, he is a natural cruiserweight. However, the 33-year-old is also undistinguished untested and appears to be completely out of his depth. It therefore didn’t take long to drift to other business. Of paramount important for Jack is a projected rematch with Jean Pascal, who won a split decision over him last December. The return fight was supposed to take place in April, but COVID intervened, then a spot on the Gervonta Davis-Leo Santa Cruz undercard fell through.
“I was waiting for the Pascal rematch, but we’ve taken this fight in the meantime,” revealed Jack. “Pascal wanted his regular purse but there was no fans [allowed to attend], so it’s going to be hard for him to get his regular purse. Basically, it’s gonna be a tough fight for him, he’s had a great career, and I know he wants to get paid to fight someone like me. We’re gonna fight at the beginning of next year, but I’ll take care of this fight first.
“Training hasn’t been a problem for me [during the pandemic]. I have my own gym in my garage, and I have the Mayweather Gym in Las Vegas. Everything has been going great, so I can’t complain. I’m more than ready.”
At 37 years of age, Jack is now in the twilight of his career. He has mixed with world level talents like Anthony Dirrell (MD 12), George Groves (SD 12), Lucian Bute (draw overturned to a DQ 12 win after Bute failed a drug test), James De Gale (Draw 12) and Adonis Stevenson (Draw 12). The resume sparkles, but the talented boxer-puncher insists that there’s still a lot more to come.
“I want to win more titles, and maybe even go up another weight class,” offered Jack. “This fight is at cruiserweight, so maybe I fight for a cruiserweight title. I’ll take one fight at a time, but I’ve got some more money to make, and I want bigger and better fights.”
And what if cruiserweight goes back to 190 pounds as the WBC suggested recently? Would that suit Jack better?
“It doesn’t matter if it’s 200 or 190,” he said after a brief pause. “If it’s 200, then I’m more comfortable. If it’s 190, as far as my size goes, right now, it’s probably better. This next fight is at 189 pounds, so  would fit me better, but it makes no sense to change it unless the other organizations do it. If you’re going to unify, then they have to make it 190 for all of them.”
While Jack will be in the “City of Angels” to compete, he’ll also soak in the unique buzz that will surround the Tyson-Jones affair. When asked for his opinions and a prediction, one got the impression that he viewed the entire concept as surreal.
“I was shocked when Tyson’s team reached out to me and asked if I wanted to be the co-main out there, and I was shocked that they were even fighting,” admitted Jack. “But this is a huge event, it’s an honor to be part of it, and it’s also great for my foundation because there are so many eyeballs on it.
“They were my favorite fighters growing up, I look up to them, and I know both of them pretty well. May the best man win.”
This will be Jack’s first assignment under new head trainer Johnathon Banks.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing