Sweden, by all accounts, is a rather lovely place to be. A high per capita, low population density, and no conflict with any other countries in the world.
It’s just not the best place to be if you’re a professional boxer. From 1970 until 2007, the sport was banned, and discussion of reinstating it has ignited once again after Frida Wallberg’s near-fatal defeat at the hands of Diana Prazak last month. Due to the lingering resistance, its best fighters have based themselves throughout Europe.
Perhaps the best of them all made his way to the United States, and has landed in the “Sweden” of promotional outfits.
Swedish-born super middleweight Badou Jack will take on Farah Ennis in the co-feature of tonight’s ShoBox: The New Generation telecast, presented by Mayweather Promotions.
Upon arriving in the United States, Jack linked up with Warriors Boxing and DiBella Entertainment. The two outfits moved him well, as he racked up body shot knockouts on the Eastern seaboard. But while playing in a charity basketball game in Las Vegas, where he was training with Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, he ran into someone looking to build his own roster: Floyd Mayweather.
“He came up to me and said ‘What do I have to do to get you on my team?’ I said, buy me out of my contracts. He said okay, done. And that Monday, he did,” recalls Jack.
Jack (14-0, 10 knockouts) seemingly has no ill-will towards his former promoters, but the luxuries he’s afforded as part of The Money Team are quite extravagant.
“We’re like a family. No other promotional companies are like that. After his last fight, he took all of his fighters out to Miami on a yacht and had a vacation for a week, living like superstars for a week,” said Jack.
Lavish yacht parties aside, Jack has been getting the superstar treatment in terms of his movement as a fighter. Being a part of The Money Team gets you more than fly flat-brim snapbacks, it means you get a lot of opportunities to fight, and fight on television.
No expense is spared to make that happen, either. In February, Mayweather promoted a card at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas that was aired by Fox Sports Net as part of the Golden Boy Live! series. Jack had been out of the ring for almost a year at the time, and that streak was threatening to extend if they couldn’t get his opponent Jonel Tapia in the ring that night.
“That was like a comeback fight, it was last minute. That guy didn’t want to take the fight, so they gave him $10,000 or whatever. He didn’t really want to fight,” said Jack, who flattened his foe with a left hook to the body in the first round.
Mayweather promised Jack that there would be no lengthy layoffs anymore while under his roof, and that they would aim for 5-7 fights in 2013.
So far, they’re right on schedule. Jack stopped Michael Gbenga on the undercard of Mayweather’s victory over Robert Guerrero in May, and his bout with Ennis on Showtime will mark his fourth appearance of the year.
That kind of consistency doesn’t allow for too many boat cruises, though.
“The sparring sessions are harder than a real fight. Five minute rounds, 20-30 second rest, fresh sparring partners coming in,” said Jack of the regiment at the Mayweather Gym. “I don’t take more than a week off, so I don’t even call it a training camp, I’m just always training.”
Those sparring sessions have included dozens of rounds with top super middleweight Andre Dirrell, whom Jack says he’s fared very well with thanks to an active jab. The tough work is indicative of the belief Mayweather has in Jack, whom he was touting, unprovoked, as a “future champion” following a victory over Don Mouton in Detroit.
The 29-year old is currently ranked No. 6 by the WBA and No. 14 by the WBC, so he has the means and the opportunity to live up to the promise.
Assuming he defeats Ennis, Jack is expecting another fight in September on the undercard of Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez, and hints that it could be a significant one.
“We have some big plans for after this fight, but I don’t wanna say anything yet,” said Jack. “All I can say is Floyd doesn’t want me to fight no bums. We want quality opponents so when it comes time for that title fight, the big fight, we’re ready.”
Photo / Tom Casino-SHOWTIME
Corey Erdman is a staff writer for RingTV.com, a host at Fight Network in Canada, and a regular commentator for WealthTV. He is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman.