The nagging ticking sound playing in the playground had become unbearably loud. However, at the age of 39, Badou Jack was well aware that his time in this brutal profession was drawing to a close. In an effort to protract his career just a bit longer, while simultaneously giving his body a reprieve, Jack, who was once a title holder at both 168 and 175 pounds, decided to make the move to the cruiserweight division in 2021.
Although he feasted upon three consecutive journeymen, Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs) was convinced that his championship experience, coupled with his newfound comfortability facing bigger men, would allow him to compete against the cruiserweight division’s elite. This past Sunday afternoon, at the Diriyah Arena, in Saudi Arabia, Jack was given his first true test in Ilunga Makabu.
Despite giving up size, Jack’s eyes became fixated on Makabu’s WBC crown. From the moment the opening bell rang, the Swedish native imposed his will, dropping the 35-year-old in the second and 11th rounds before scoring a stoppage victory in the final frame.
While not entirely surprised by how things played out, Jack revealed that he had no true intentions of standing and banging with the naturally bigger man. In fact, according to the newly minted cruiserweight champion, his propensity and willingness to fight fire with fire, led to a slightly more difficult night at the office.
“The key was just to box him, I had better footwork then him and not stand in front of him,” said Jack to Seconds Out during a recent interview. “But I stood in front of him a little bit too much.”
At times, Jack remained disciplined in what Jonathan Banks, his current trainer, instructed him to do. Nevertheless, Jack dug his feet into the canvas on countless occasions and forced Makabu to respect his violent punching power.
Ultimately, having spent the majority of his career campaigning in lower weight classes, Jack is convinced that his somewhat smaller frame allowed Makabu to have a false sense of security, which eventually opened the door for him to become a three-divisional world champion.
“I landed the harder shots. They underestimated my power just because I’m coming from a lighter weight.”