By Lem Satterfield
Southpaw Marcus Browne’s last fight in August was a unanimous decision over Lenin Castillo at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, ending the loser’s run of three consecutive knockouts and improving the winner’s mark to 13-0 with nine KOs in his native Big Apple.
Prior to Castillo, “Sir Marcus’” first-round stoppage of Francy Ntetu in January 2018 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn had raised Browne’s record to 12-0 with eight knockouts at the Big Apple venue.
Browne declared himself ready to become the star of a wide-open 175-pound division whose champions are Oleksander Gvozdyk, Eleider Alvarez, Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol, holders of the WBC, WBO, IBF and WBA world championships.
But the southpaw had also expressed interest in two-division champion Badou Jack, who is ranked No. 1 ahead of No. 2 Brown in the slots for the titles owned by Gvozdyk and Bivol, with Browne being rated No. 2 for that held by Alvarez.
“[Jack’s] ahead of me, and I don’t wanna fight anybody who is behind me. If I’m what they claim I am in the boxing world, then he’s a person I should fight,” said the 6-foot-1½ Browne, a product of Staten Island, New York, whose 28th birthday was in November.
“[Jack] responded to me on Instagram saying he wanted to fight. He’s not busy, I’m not busy, and the champions have other fights. So I feel like I’m in a great position, and I’m waiting for Badou Jack to step up to the plate. I can’t wait to fight him and beat his ass.”
Browne (22-0, 16 KOs) has gotten his wish to face Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) on January 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, albeit before “The Ripper’s” hometown crowd and against a fighter promoted by Floyd Mayweather Jr., perhaps the gambling town’s most influential pugilist in boxing’s history.
Browne battles Jack for the WBA’s interim 175-pound title on the undercard of a 147-pound defense by WBA “regular” champion Manny Pacquiao (60-7-2, 39 KOs) against four-division champion Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs).
Making his second appearance in Las Vegas, Browne debuted there in June 2014 at The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, his 91-second TKO of Donta Woods stopping for the first time a boxer who entered at 8-2 with seven knockouts.
“I’m not concerned about anything at all. At the end of the day, we know what we’re working for,” said Browne, a 2012 U.S. Olympian who has finished three of his past four opponents inside the distance. “If a knockout comes, it comes, but if not, we are winning every round and that’s that. I’m not here to lose rounds and that’s about it.”
Prior to Ntetu, Browne scored knockouts over left-handed title challenger Thomas Williams Jr. and previously unbeaten Seanie Monaghan in the sixth and second rounds in February and July 2017.
Along with his first-round KO of former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo in September 2015, Browne's stoppage of Williams raised more than a few eyebrows regarding “Sir Marcis’” championship potential.
"At the end of the day, this is all part of God’s plan. It’s already written and I’m just following it. This is not my dream, it’s my destiny," said Browne.
"I’m taking it one day and one step at a time, one fighter at a time. I’m not worried about fighting no other champions. All I’m worried about is fighting Badou Jack on January 19. After that, we can discuss whatever."
Still, Browne could learn from the experiences of former 168-pound champion David Benavidez or 154-pound title challenger Julian Williams concerning their difficulties vanquishing Mayweather Promotions’ fighters in Las Vegas, particularly those who, like Jack, are residents.
Over consecutive bouts in November 2017 and February 2018, Benavidez earned split- and near-shutout unanimous decisions over Ronald Gavril at The Joint at The Hard Rock, and then at The Mandalay Bay Hotel.
In the former, a then-20-year-old Benavidez overcame an injured middle left knuckle and a final round knockdown to become the youngest world champion in division history and the sport’s youngest titleholder at the time. Benavidez ended Gavril’s seven-fight winning streak (five by KO), surpassing 22-year-old Darrin Van Horn’s accomplishment in May 1991.
But after hearing the bell ending his initial fight with Gavril, and before the decision was announced, a hat was literally tossed into the ring on behalf of Gavril, bearing the name “Floyd Mayweather Jr.”
“I was taking my gloves off when it fell right in front of me,” said Benavidez, who threw the lid back into a sea of screaming fans.
Williams had a similar experience in November 2017 at the gambling town’s Cosmopolitan, overcoming former champion and Las Vegas-born Ishe Smith by unanimous decision before “Sugar Shay’s” energized hometown supporters.
“Julian went into the lions’ den,” said Williams’ trainer, Stephen Edwards, afterward. “He won a hard fight against Ishe’s crowd.”
Browne is aware that he has a comparable task in “The Ripper,” although he claims to be ready for it.
But Browne remains undeterred, believing he can win a decision over 12 rounds against Jack if the KO doesn't materialize.
"We know he’s a work horse of a fighter and we’re prepared for that. He’s got great form. On January 19, you’ll see that I’m in shape or not. I’m not concerned about what the judges are doing," said Browne.
"We already know what the type of time it is already and we know how we’re coming. I’m not looking for the knockout. I’m just looking to box and do what I do and implement the game play and systematically break him down…Badou Jack is not going to define my legacy…My performance in this fight will.”