If the 39-year-old Badou Jack’s finest days are unquestionably behind him, he chose a suitable occasion on Sunday to travel back in time and demonstrate how brilliant he still is.
In the co-main event of the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury pay-per-view from Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia, Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs), a former super middleweight and light heavyweight champion, defeated WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Junior Makabu (29-3, 25 KOs) via 12th-round Knockout.
The Swedish native piled it on late to remove the decision from the judges’ control because Jack’s camp was able to see how close the fight was still going into the championship rounds thanks to the open scoring that the WBC had permitted for the fight. Jack finished the show in the last round by hurting Makabu with power shots after scoring knockdowns in Rounds 4 and 11, and at 54 seconds with Makabu tied to the ropes, referee Mark Lyson entered the ring.
According to CompuBox, Makabu, 35, outlanded Jack overall by a score of 242 to 231, but he was unable to match Jack’s quickness of foot and hands. Even though Jack had a technical advantage and boxed well the entire time, his late-round power punches proved to be the difference.
Jack made an impressive 61% of his power shots over the course of the entire 12 rounds.
Jack remarked, “I was standing there too much. “I was instructed to box and move by [trainer Johnathon Banks], but that’s not really my style. I enjoy engaging in combat. Makabu is a fierce combatant. He is still my brother even though we used to exercise together.”
When Jack learned he was the first Muslim boxer to win a world championship in Saudi Arabia, he became emotional after the match (and Islamic world at large). The triumph marked his sixth straight triumph since losing the 175-pound 2019 titles to Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal.
Jack hasn’t lost a fight since moving up to cruiserweight, but his recent showings against journeyman-level opposition gave the impression that he may be losing steam. Jack, however, appeared to be the more youthful combatant throughout.
Makabu, a South African-based fighter who is of Congolese descent, ended a 10-fight winning streak that had been in place since losing the championship to Tony Bellew in 2016. Makabu went on to successfully defend the vacant WBC championship twice after defeating Michal Cieslak in 2020.