This Saturday night on Showtime, Gervonta Davis meets Yuriorkis Gamboa in a hyped lightweight main event from Atlanta.
But in the co-feature slot, we may have the more intriguing matchup, as light heavyweight veterans Jean Pascal and Badou Jack lock horns, both men looking to close out 2019 strong after odd fights with Marcus Browne earlier this year.
In January, Browne beat Jack by clear decision in an exceptionally bloody affair, a fight where Jack suffered a horrendous gash in the seventh round and had no hope from there, as he was all but fighting blind. But Browne had been beating Jack before the cut, too; he just looked the better, fresher fighter that night.
Then in August, Browne faced Pascal, which was expected to wind up a mismatch, possibly an ugly one. Instead, Pascal dropped a defensively lax Browne three times, and wound up pulling the upset on a technical decision with eight rounds scored.
That means that we’ve got a 37-year-old Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KO) back in the mix at 175, and on Saturday he defends the WBA’s secondary “world” title against Jack (22-2-3, 13 KO), who has the chance to bounce back with a credible win.
“Mentally I’m better than I’ve ever been,” Jack said at a recent media workout. “I’m hungrier and I feel like I did the first time I fought for the title. I’m always hungry, but I’m really excited for this fight.
“Sometimes losses make you better,” he continued. “My first loss [a TKO-1 to Derek Edwards in 2014] was an accident, and I became better because of it. The loss to Marcus Browne, it wasn’t the fairest loss, but it’s made me even hungrier. I’m going to go out there and win the fight no matter what.”
Jack also knows better than to think of Pascal as any easy mark. The Haitian-Canadian may be technically flawed — he always has been — but he’s unpredictable, has some dynamite left in his hands, and makes opponents pay for defensive lapses, as Browne learned four months ago.
“People have written Pascal off a couple of times and he always came back,” Jack said. “He’s a throwback fighter who definitely knows how to fight. He brings it every time. He’s got more mileage than me, but I can’t overlook a guy like him.”
He said they have shared a ring together in the past, but he’s not putting much stock into past training sessions.
“Pascal and I sparred before but it was a long time ago and sparring is way different than a real fight,” he said. “I’ve fought bigger punchers, but you have to respect the power of anyone in the ring. Anything can happen. You can get caught by someone who’s not a puncher.”
Jack also believes that he still has some good years to go in boxing, and that an 11-month break, even if not by design, may have been good for him.
“I know that I have a lot left to give this sport. I feel like I’m young for my age. The break between fights and bouncing back from a loss have made me more motivated than ever. I’m ready to go in and give the best performance of my career.”