By Jake Donovan
Badou Jack was prepared for the notion that he would be down early versus Marcus Browne, yet confident that he’d ride out the storm and ultimately emerge victorious.
Midway through their light heavyweight title eliminator last Saturday in Las Vegas, it was clear Jack wasn’t going to mount any kind of rally. Left bleeding profusely from a clash of heads in round seven, the best for which the former two-division titlist could hope in the absence of a dramatic late-rounds knockout was simply to hear the final bell.
“Only God knows,” Jack conceded during a media conference call when asked if the cut ultimately changed the course of their 12-round fight. “Browne is a frontrunner. He had nice hands, he’s good in the beginning. We accepted that.
“We wanted to take him in deep waters and drown him. But he fought a great fight. We’ve seen what happens in my other fights in the later rounds.”
Jack (22-2-3, 13KOs) has sparked strong second-half surges versus the likes of Anthony Dirrell (against whom he won the super middleweight title), George Groves, Lucian Bute, James DeGale and Adonis Stevenson in title fights spanning two weight divisions. His fighting style—and more so the timing of when he hits his stride in a fight—has led to several close decisions, including having to settle for a draw versus Stevenson last May.
Versus the younger and seemingly sharper Browne (23-0, 16KOs), Jack just couldn’t get into an offensive rhythm in the first half of a bout to determine the next mandatory challenger for reigning champ Oleksandr Gvozdyk. It was a bit frustrating for the 35-year old Las Vegas resident by way of Sweden, who’d turned it on against opposition at the championship level but whose momentum was sapped following an inadvertent headbutt.
“(Browne is) a good fighter, but no I don’t feel he was a big puncher,” Jack noted in assessing whether or not he was hurt at any time aside from the clash of heads. “I was in with a big puncher in my last fight (Stevenson). So, absolutely not.
“He was holding me a lot. That comes with the territory, you have to keep fighting. The blood affected me a little bit, but no excuses. I tried my best.”
Whatever tactics were employed by Browne over the final six rounds were nothing out of the ordinary. The unbeaten contender from Staten Island had gained a reputation—unfairly or otherwise—as a fighter not above bending the rules.
A healthy portion of that take stems from a Feb. ’17 clash with former title challenger Thomas Williams, whom Browne floored three times en route to a 6th round stoppage. The first knockdown came in round two, after which Browne struck Williams while on the canvas. The sequence resulted in a point deduction, but ultimately rendered moot as he dominated the rest of the way in scoring the TKO win.
“There was a few little dirty tricks he did (on Saturday),” Jack noted of his opponent, who was deducted a point in round seven for excessive holding. “We knew was dirty, he hit Thomas Williams when he was down.
“We studied him, we knew he was a little dirty. But this is boxing. He held me whenever I was able to get on the inside, but he did the right thing (to survive and ultimately win the fight). Same thing with Stevenson, at the end of our fight, he was holding a lot too.”
The loss was Jack’s first in nearly five years, having amassed a nine-fight unbeaten streak following a shocking 1st round knockout at the hands of Derek Edwards in Feb. ’14. Saturday’s defeat was his first with either a title or a title shot directly at stake, but he remains confident that soon will come another opportunity to return to the top of the light heavyweight heap.
It won’t come, however, before he has time to properly recover from emergency surgery performed to repair the 6” cut which resulted in his losing an estimated 1-2 liters of blood.
“Of course, I want to avenge my loss,” Jack noted, although acknowledging a lengthy healing process in the meantime. “It was an accidental head clash… hard to fight though.
“I would love a rematch, but we don’t know how long it will take to heal. I’m looking in the mirror, it’s already looking great.”