Las Vegas, Nevada, January 17, 2019 – With the WBC light heavyweight belt freed from the hands of longtime former champion Adonis Stevenson by Alex Gvozdyk, another opportunity opens for a title fight in the competitive light heavyweight division. The opportunity will go to the winner of Saturday’s co-main event between former two division champion Badou Jack of Las Vegas (22-1-3, 13 KOs) and Marcus Browne of Staten Island, New York (22-0, 16 KOs) on the Pacquiao vs. Broner undercard.
Prior to Gvozdyk’s stoppage win, Jack came as close as anyone to taking Stevenson’s title in May. The pair fought a competitive 12 rounds, and many including this columnist believed Jack won. But two cards had it dead event, with the third going to Stevenson 115-113, allowing him to keep his title until recently.
The main criticism of Jack in the fight was displaying too much caution, respecting the power of Stevenson who sent a lot of opponents to the showers early via a single punch. Stevenson displayed a wide array of punches, but nothing Jack couldn’t handle.
It’s fitting then Jack will get a chance in front of his hometown fans to get another crack at the WBC title should he defeat Browne. The 35-year-old Jack has a far better record than the 28-year-old Browne. Jack has dispatched Nathan Cleverly at light heavyweight, and Lucien Bute, George Groves, and Anthony Dirrell at super middleweight. Browne’s biggest win came against fellow New Yorker Seanie Monaghan in 2017.
Both men weighed in at the 175-pound limit. The pair engaged in minor scuffling as Browne continued to have words with Jack as he has throughout the lead-up to the bout. “It’s nothing personal, it’s business, man. He knows what time it is,” said Browne.
Jack brushed it off. “I just said, ‘you’ve never been here, see you tomorrow.”
“On paper Marcus Browne isn’t on the level with the guys who I’ve fought,” said Jack at this week’s final news conference. “Who knows? He might be a great champion. But either way, I’m focused on what’s in front of me. If he doesn’t respect this challenge, that might be his downfall.
“Every opponent has talked about me and said I’m a basic fighter, but after the fight, they have excuses. I don’t want to hear any excuses after Saturday,” said Jack.
Naturally, Browne disagrees. “I’m not trying to disrespect anyone he’s fought, but I feel like he hasn’t fought top level guys since moving up to this division. I’m young and hungry and I’m ready to go. I’m a different animal than what he’s seen … He’s fought six world champions in a row, but he hasn’t fought a real light heavyweight like myself. Come Saturday night, we’re going to go wherever we have to go to get this victory. I’m leaving Las Vegas with this win.”
Browne said he wants people to say of him after the fight, “’this kid has something about him. Some pizazz, some sauce that I never seen before.’ My ideal year is winning this fight and getting on the phone and then discussing future plans.”
Jack said Browne’s braggadocio has him even more motivated. “Marcus has never been in this position so I think he’s a little nervous or he doesn’t know how to act. He’s disrespecting world champions and he’s never even won a title.”.
Jack should apply pressure from the opening bell and not be overly cautious. He should be able to throw Browne off by never letting him get a toe-hard. Here, Browne’s lack of top level opponents will show. Jack is also far better conditioned than Browne, and should be able to tire him out and easily win on the scorecards. If Jack can wear Browne down to the body, he may score a stoppage win.
Bantamweight battle: Rau’shee Warren vs. Nordine Oubaali
Former champion and U.S. Olympian Rau’shee Warren of Cincinnati (16-2, 4 KOs) gets a chance to avenge his Olympic loss against Nordine Oubaali of France (14-0, 11 KOs). The vacant WBC bantamweight title is at stage. Both men made weight for the bout, Oubaali at 118 and Warren at 116.5 pounds.
Warren has struggled to fulfill the promise he showed as a younger fighter coming out of the Olympics. A win against his former foe would jump start a stalled career. “There’s nothing like fighting someone you lost to in the Olympics,” said Warren. “I know Roy Jones Jr. felt like that when he got cheated in the Olympics. In this rematch, It’s going to be a way different fight … Oubaali hasn’t fought anyone like me. Getting in the ring with me is a whole different story than when we met the first time. It’s an honor to get my revenge.
American audiences may not know Oubaali, but he comes with impressive endorsements from Roy Jones, Jr., who is acting as an advisor to the French fighter, and former Fighter of the Year Nonito Donaire, who stepped in as a sparring partner.
“I fought Rau’shee Warren in the amateurs, but I know in the pros it’s totally different. I know that I have progressed even more since I turned pro and am better than when we fought in the Olympics,” said Oubaali. “Rau’shee is a good, smart and slick fighter, but I have the strategy for this win. I have the power that he lacks. I’m going to accomplish my American dream.
“I came here to win a world title, not look at the lights. People may not know me now, but after this fight, people will know my name and know I’m a world champion.”
Jones Jr. expressed his gratitude to Donaire, one of the few southpaws who would help Oubaali train for Warren. “These are the type of people who come through when you need it. No southpaw would give him rounds but Nonito came through and he gave him rounds. Thanks to Nonito for coming through – now Nordine is ready to go and become champion of the world.”
Donaire likes what he saw. “His power is something you really feel when you’re in there with him and I really think he’s going to go in there and do a good job,” said Donaire.
Tepora out, Guevara steps in against Ruiz
Filipino Jhack Tepora is out on the undercard for failing to make weight. He hit the scale at 131.5 pound, 5.5 pound over the featherweight limit and far too high to even try and make weight. Fortunately for opponent Hugo Ruiz of Mexico (37-4, 31 KOs, he will still have an opponent. Promoters were aware earlier in the week of Tepora’s issues with weight, and arranged a fill in opponent, Alberto Guevara of Mexico (27-3, 12 KOs) Guervara has fought significant opponents including Leo Santa Cruz and Shinsuke Yamanaka earlier in his career.
There are six additional undercard fights for those in attendance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Jack vs. Browne, Warren vs. Oubaali and Ruiz vs. Guevara will open the pay per view telecast at 9 p.m ET/6 p.m. PT.
Stephen Espinoza, president of sports and events programming for Showtime, said of the card, “Top to bottom this is a card worthy of your attention. We’re proud of what we put together and we’ll see you on Saturday night.”
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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