ATLANTA – Badou Jack’s main motivation for beating Jean Pascal is the WBA world light heavyweight title that’s at stake Saturday night.
Defeating Pascal also would move Jack closer to an opportunity to avenge a surprisingly lopsided loss in his last fight. Pascal is contractually obligated to give former champ Marcus Browne a rematch, but if Jack tops Pascal at State Farm Arena, a Jack-Browne rematch might become more appealing in 2020.
Browne beat a bloodied Jack by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 175-pound championship match January 19 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Jack suffered a horrific cut in the middle of his forehead during the seventh round of that bout, which limited his sight and made his face a bloody mess throughout the final five-plus rounds.
The cut clearly hurt his cause, but the left-handed Browne was comfortably beating Jack even before an accidental head-butt caused that terrible cut. Jack says he was “flat” that night and hopes he can secure a rematch with the 2012 Olympian from Staten Island.
“Of course I wanna avenge my loss,” Jack told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Thursday. “I’m not supposed to lose to someone like him. No disrespect, but I’m not supposed to lose to him.”
The 37-year-old Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KOs, 1 NC) was supposed to lose to Browne (23-1, 16 KOs) when they fought August 3 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Quebec’s Pascal dropped Browne three times, though, and beat Browne by technical decision when a ringside physician determined Browne shouldn’t continue in the eighth round due to a cut over his left eye, also the consequence of an accidental head-butt.
Las Vegas’ Jack (22-2-3, 13 KOs) recalled offering Pascal some friendly advice before the former WBC/IBO light heavyweight champ became a two-time title-holder by beating Browne.
“He proved everybody wrong,” Jack said. “I talked to him before he fought Marcus Browne. I gave him little tips. I was joking with him. I said, ‘I need my 10 percent,’ because exactly what he did, I told him that.
“I was rooting for him. I’m happy for him. Even though we’re fighting, to me it’s just business. So, I’m happy for him, happy that he won. He’s a solid guy. He’s a good guy.”
Temporarily, Jack considers Pascal “the enemy,” the man standing between him and redeeming himself for his loss to Browne.
“All my focus is on Jean Pascal,” said Jack, who’s more than a 2-1 favorite to beat Pascal. “He’s a tough guy. He’s a mentally strong guy. He might not be more technical or more skillful than Marcus Browne, but he’s a much tougher guy than Browne.”
Showtime will televise Pascal-Jack as part of a three-bout broadcast that’ll begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. It’ll be followed immediately by a 12-round main event in which Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) and Miami’s Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-2, 18 KOs) will fight for a vacant version of the WBA’s lightweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.