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Jean Pascal and Badou Jack expecting the best from one another

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The light heavyweight veterans displayed a mutual respect ahead of Saturday’s clash.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

At ages 37 and 36, respectively, neither Jean Pascal nor Badou Jack can be called a spring chicken in the boxing game. The two veterans meet in a pivotal light heavyweight bout this Saturday night on Showtime (9:00 pm ET) from Atlanta, and the respect between the two is mutual, which isn’t always the case for Pascal going into a fight, in particular.

“Badou Jack is a solid fighter with great defense and good attack,” Pascal said. “I’ve had a great camp in Puerto Rico. I’ve been away from my family for three months and I’m war ready.”

“I think Pascal can bring the best out of me on Saturday night,” Jack offered. “Styles make fights and I think our styles will mesh.”

Both fighters have faced Marcus Browne this year, with very different outcomes. Jack (22-2-3, 13 KO) suffered a terrible cut and was beaten over 12 rounds by Browne in January, while Pascal scored three knockdowns and got a somewhat bizarre win over Browne via technical decision after eight rounds in August, which was a big upset.

Jack admits that the cut wasn’t the only thing that led to his loss to Browne.

“I was flat against Marcus Browne, regardless of the cut, but I feel much better this time than I did heading into that fight,” he said, adding that he doesn’t think their fights with Browne will have much to say about what happens in this contest.

“Pascal and I both come to fight,” Jack said. “Marcus Browne is a southpaw and he’s more evasive. So it’s hard to compare. Pascal is a tough guy and I expect nothing less than a tough fight.”

Pascal (34-6-1, 20 KO) will be defending the WBA “world” light heavyweight title, a belt secondary to the WBA strap held by Dmitry Bivol, in this fight, and it truly is a meaningful fight for both of these guys. A win leads to another big fight. A loss means there’s a lot of ground to cover for either man if they want to get back in the race, without a lot of time left in their careers, one would think.

Pascal’s longevity is a surprise to many, but not to him.

“I’ve been fighting at the highest level for the last 11 years,” he said. “That means something. I’m a special fighter. I have things that nobody can teach, which is a chin and a heart.”

As for Jack, he’s had draws with Adonis Stevenson and James DeGale in the last couple of years, and he had one with Lucian Bute in 2016, too, before that was changed to a DQ win for Jack when Bute failed a drug test. He doesn’t want to leave any debate in this fight.

“All of the close decisions I’ve had in the past, everyone who watched those fights knows that those were wins,” the Swedish fighter said. “Saturday night I’m going to win and there will be no doubt.