After a surprisingly modest stateside promotion, here we are on the eve of a crucial matchup that will have big implications in the post-Andre Ward era at Light Heavyweight. This fight had a short buildup from its announcement and has not gotten the kind of buzz that it deserves. Badou Jack is an ambitious workman who gets stronger as the fight goes on. Adonis Stevenson is a typically exciting southpaw puncher that can end it all at any moment. It is fair to expect that both men will come to fight in this one. Crowd pleasing action is practically guaranteed.
Jack, 34, has steadily improved while seeking out the best possible opponents since his KO loss to Derrick Edwards in 2014. His stock is surging going in to this bout.
Stevenson, 40, has continued to win since he captured the WBC 175 lb. title and the world’s attention back in 2013, albeit with some competition that fans and media have found to be underwhelming. Dance-partner selection aside, his thudding power remains undeniable.
What each fighter wants:
Jack has exceptional conditioning and will look to drag this one out. He is the younger man and will try to wear his more athletic counterpart down. That means giving Stevenson zero space to set up in the pocket. That means imposing his signature ripping body shots. The longer the fight goes, and the closer the distance it is contested at, the better for Jack. He will have to stay diligent with his guard though, as his defense has gotten better in every fight of his over the last three years. He will need every bit of it against Stevenson, who will be the most dangerous puncher he has ever faced.
This is a tougher fight than he has had in at least several years, and he has to know it. He also has to know he is not getting any younger. With this, he is likely to come out looking to land something big early on. In order to land that one punch, he will need to utilize his reach advantage and keep a respectable distance from Jack’s pressure. Neither man is especially touted for the use of their jab, but it will be a critical aspect, maybe the critical aspect, to determining who gets the positioning they want.
Stevenson has been a dominant champion at this weight for years, while Jack is recently moving up. However, title fights like this one are all about the timing. Jack may be relatively new to the weight class, but he has made the move gracefully, looking filled-out and powerful in his destruction of Nathan Cleverly last August. He will also be the taller fighter here. Jack’s climb up the ladder of Super Middleweight and now Light Heavyweight, as well as subtle improvements to his footwork, timing, and composure have Jack peaking at exactly the right time.
Stevenson is now 40 and has not been fighting the top fighters in the division recently. He is likely to be past his physical prime. Momentum is on Jack’s side, and he has more tools to win with. Stevenson is threatening enough with his tools though, that it makes this a near pick-‘em fight.