By Kevin Francis, courtesy of The Daily Star
YUSAF MACK believes the survival skills he picked up on the streets of Philadelphia can make him a world champion tomorrow.
The 32-year-old challenges IBF super-middleweight belt holder Carl Froch at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham and is bursting with confidence.
It’s the third time he will have attempted to relieve someone of a world title, failing on his two previous occasions.
However, he now feels his time has finally arrived and puts his optimism down to the toughness he had to acquire while growing up as a kid in the tough area of West Philly.
In fact, things were so bad that seven of his pals were killed in a massacre at a drug den there in 2000 – just 300 yards from the gym where he was training.
He said: “It was terrible and 10 people were killed. It was a drug house. People went in there and robbed it and they killed everybody.”
His father died three years ago from sclerosis of the liver and Yusaf also had to suffer the loss of his brother Steven, who was shot in a robbery.
He said: “I always say that somebody from my neighborhood has got to make it. I feel like I’m the only one and have to do what I gotta do.
“You needed to be strong. I feel I have been through a lot but this is my time.
“Froch has had his time. He had his world title shot. Now it’s my time, after what I’ve been through.”
Mack’s last title tilt was at the IBF light-heavyweight belt in June last year, but despite doing well in the early rounds, he lost in the eighth to Tavoris Cloud.
Mack has a record of 31-4-2 (17 KOs) and says that now he is ready to finally deliver the goods by landing a world title.
He said: “I’ve let my kids down too many times, by telling them I’m going to win a fight and then coming up short.
“But I came up short those other times because of me. This time my whole thing is to win.
“I failed those other tests, but this time I’m going to get myself 100 per cent. It’s past due. My time is past due.”
Froch is the overwhelming 33-1 on favourite to successfully defend his crown, but Mack is not worried about being a lengthy 9-1 chance.
He added: “I have always been the underdog, I like being the underdog. I’m strong, I’ve got dancing feet. I have got to prove to myself, nobody else, that I deserve to be here.
“I’m here for a reason – and to prove it, I have got to beat this guy.
“People may have doubts about me, but I am fighting for my life. I’m leaving it all in the ring. I am ready for it.”