If 39-year-old Badou Jack's best days are decidedly behind him, he picked a good time on Sunday to turn back the clock and remind how good he can still be.
Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs), a former super middleweight and light heavyweight titleholder, captured a third world title in as many divisions in a 12th-round TKO of WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Junior Makabu (29-3, 25 KOs) in the co-main of the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury pay-per-view from Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia.
Due to the open scoring approved for the bout by the WBC, Jack's corner was able to see how close the fight still was entering the championship rounds and the native of Sweden poured it on late to take the decision out of the judges' hands. After scoring knockdowns in Rounds 4 and 11, Jack closed the show in the final round by hurting Makabu with power shots before referee Mark Lyson jumped in at 54 seconds with Makabu pinned to the ropes.
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Makabu, 35, outlanded Jack overall by a margin of 242 to 231, according to CompuBox, but couldn't deal with the footwork and hand speed of his opponent. Even though Jack held a technical edge and boxed well throughout, his power punching turned out to be the difference late.
And the new! 🏆@BadouJack | @MostVPromotions | #PaulFury pic.twitter.com/wCNPBX46dl— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 26, 2023
That right hand was a thing of beauty 😮💨@BadouJack | @MostVPromotions | #PaulFury pic.twitter.com/zL1f6WxGfe— Top Rank Boxing (@trboxing) February 26, 2023
Over the full 12 rounds, Jack connected on a hefty 61% of power shots.
"I was standing there too much," Jack said. "[Trainer Johnathon Banks] told me to box and move but that's not really my style. I like to come forward and fight. Makabu is a hell of a fighter. We used to be training partners and he is still my brother."
Jack was emotional after the fight upon being told he was the first Muslim boxer to win a world title in Saudi Arabia (and Islamic world at large). The victory was also his sixth straight since a pair of 2019 title defeats at 175 pounds against Marcus Browne and Jean Pascal.
But even though Jack has remained unbeaten since moving up to cruiserweight, his recent performances against journeyman-level competition suggested he might be faded. Instead, Jack looked like the fresher fighter throughout.
Makabu, a native of The Congo who fights out of South Africa, snapped a 10-fight win streak dating back to a title loss to Tony Bellew in 2016. Makabu went on to make two defenses of the vacant WBC title he won in 2020 against unbeaten Michal Cieslak.