Badou Jack Focused on Outsmarting James DeGale Amid Pre-Fight Trash Talk

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 10, 2017

Jack was robbed in a draw against Bute, and he'll look to unify the division against DeGale Saturday night.
Jack was robbed in a draw against Bute, and he'll look to unify the division against DeGale Saturday night.AFP/Getty Images

Badou Jack believes he has plenty of advantages coming into his super middleweight unification fight with James DeGale Saturday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, on Showtime Championship Boxing.

"I'm the smarter fighter—period," Jack said in response to a question on a media conference call. "I believe I'm the more fundamentally sound fighter. I believe I'm the more technical fighter."

"It's not just about throwing millions of combinations or looking flashy and stuff like that. It's about winning rounds. It's about being smart."

Jack, who is promoted by former pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, and DeGale, who is ranked as the No. 1 168-pound fighter by The Ring magazine (Jack is ranked No. 2), have both peaked in recent fights, with each man capturing a world championship in 2015.

And there are other similarities between the two men who will compete for super middleweight dominance, including a slew of common opponents and a shared Olympic appearance.

Jack was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and a Gambian father. He represented the tiny West African nation at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, where he suffered an early exit in the opening round of the tournament.

He took his world title from power punching Anthony Dirrell in a minor upset.

DeGale also competed at the 2008 Summer Games, but he was more successful.

He captured a gold medal in the middleweight division and then went on to win a vacant title against Andre Dirrell (the older brother of Anthony) to become the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world championship.

That's no small accomplishment.

Many consider Jack and DeGale the two best 168-pound fighters in the world.
Many consider Jack and DeGale the two best 168-pound fighters in the world.Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Jack and DeGale did a fair bit of sniping at each other on last week's conference call.

It isn't all that unusual for fighter's to talk trash, but there was some significant hostility here that fans will hope can translate into the in-ring action Saturday night.

DeGale accused Jack and his team of waiting him out until he turned in a subpar performance (which came against Rogelio Medina) in the ring before developing the confidence to accept the challenge, something Jack vehemently denied.

"That is all a lie," Jack said of DeGale's accusation. "I told you guys we could fight in June. I've been waiting on Floyd and Leonard [Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions] to let me know when the date is. I've been on Leonard every day for the whole summer."

"If he was greedy about money, whoever's fault it is we got the fight down right now I don't care about old fights," Jack continued. "If he went 12 rounds with this guy and this guy. Me and DeGale have to fight so whatever happened in the past, it don't matter."

It's the first significant event of Showtime's loaded first-quarter 2017 calendar, and most in the boxing community view this as something along the lines of a 50-50 fight.

DeGale is listed as a -275 betting favorite (bet $275 to win $100) at OddsShark.

Jack has rebounded well from suffering a devastating first-round knockout loss to journeyman Derek Edwards early in 2014.

He had a four-fight winning streak snapped earlier this year when a couple of incompetent judges saddled him with a terrible draw against former world champion Lucian Bute in a fight in which he won at least eight rounds.

Bute also tested positive for a banned substance after the fight and received a six-month suspension and $50,000 fine. That was an additional slap in the face given the horrific judging.

Jack enters the fight as a slight underdog.
Jack enters the fight as a slight underdog.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

DeGale had previously beaten Bute easily, which, in fairness, Jack did as well; everyone but the two judges who scored the fight saw that.

All of that will go out the window come the opening bell in Brooklyn when two world-class fighters seek to become the super middleweight division's first true top dog since Andre Ward left the division.

Jack expects a good fight and a good show for the fans.

"He's a good mover he's a good fighter. Come fight night, you'll see how I'll beat him," Jack said. "You'll find out, go live on Sky Sports or Showtime or come live at Barclays Center, you'll find out."

"Like I say, in the squared circle anything could happen so you don't know," Jack continued. "On paper, absolutely this is probably my biggest fight. He's an Olympic gold medalist, the world champion, the proven fighter. That's why it's the best versus the best. The unification play, two champions fighting each other."


All quotes were obtained firsthand.