by David P. Greisman
It definitely wasn’t a signature victory — not as super middleweight/light heavyweight prospect Badou Jack eked out a split decision victory over Alexander Brand last month on Showtime’s “ShoBox: The New Generation.”
But it was a win. And though some saw Brand winning the bout, Jack officially came out on top. Jack’s trainer, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, took the win for what it was — a learning experience.
Muhammad recently spoke with BoxingScene.com about Jack’s bout with Brand and what he hopes his fighter learned from it for the future.
BoxingScene.com: How do you think Badou looked last month against Alexander Brand?
Muhammad: “He let that gentleman take him out of his fight. This guy, the trainer [Pablo Sarmiento] is an excellent trainer; he trains [Sergio] Martinez. As we all know, Martinez is a very awkward fighter. And we had another awkward fighter that night. But Badou let him take him out of his game. But Badou in my estimation, he pulled it out in the last round. He was hitting him with left hooks. He tooks the fight over in the last round.
“And then you got to remember, we’re fighting a guy that the WBA had rated No. 15 and the WBC had him rated No. 9. It was a good fight for Badou. It moved him up in the ratings. He’s just got to keep on getting better. It was a good fight, a learning experience.”
BoxingScene.com: Was it too close for your own comfort considering that Badou had to pull it out in the last round? There were some who felt that Brand deseved the win.
Muhammad: “If the other guy had won the last round, then I would’ve said ‘OK, he won the fight fair and square,’ but I told Badou going into the last round, I said ‘This is the round where we really need it. Impose your will on this guy. Let your hands go.’ He let his hands go and he won the last round.
“Badou made the fight. The other guy didn’t make the fight. He was running, holding, grabbing. He didn’t make the fight. We made the fight. I wasn’t satisfied with the actual fight, but I was content with the decision. I knew that winning that last round won the fight.”
BoxingScene.com: What did you tell Badou afterward? Did you try to impart a lesson about what happened?
Muhammad: “You got to stay focused. You can’t let these guys take you out of your game plan. We had a game plan going in. The first round he won. With pressure and just a simple jab, he won that round. Just keep doing the same thing because this kid’s not going to come to you. You got to go in, keep your jab pumping, double and triple, move your head, and we’re going to wear him out. Somehow Badou just forgot how to do that.”
BoxingScene.com: What kind of fight do you want next for Badou to keep improving and make sure he’s eventually ready for the upper echelons?
Muhammad: Basically, not the same type of fighter that we just fought. I’d like to see him fight another eight-rounder with the guys with the same record that Badou has. Even if they had the same record that the last guy we fought had, but a guy that’s not a herky-jerky type fighter. Even though we’re still learning, down the road Badou will be able to take on those guys such as that guy we just fought. But it’s still a learning process. That’s the main thing. You can’t learn this game overnight.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org