Though most of the sports world's attention will be focused on the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor main event Saturday night, former super middleweight titleholder Badou Jack is hoping to make some new fans who probably will be seeing him fight for the first time when he appears on the undercard.
Jack vacated his 168-pound world title after slugging his way to a draw in a fight of the year candidate, a unification bout against James DeGale on Jan. 14 in New York. He's moving up to the 175-pound light heavyweight division to challenge secondary titlist Nathan Cleverly in one of the featured bouts on the Mayweather-McGregor undercard (Showtime PPV, 9 p.m. ET) at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
"I'm going to take advantage of this big stage and have fun in there against Cleverly," Jack told ESPN on Monday.
Jack, who is promoted by Mayweather Promotions, has had an opportunity to train with Mayweather but said he also very much appreciates how hard Mayweather worked to get him the title fight with Cleverly.
"I made a big name for myself at super middleweight and Floyd told me that he'd get me a title fight at light heavyweight, either with [world champion Adonis] Stevenson or another title fight," Jack said. "He got me the fight. I'd rather fight Stevenson than Cleverly, but this is a good fight too and it's for a world title. Floyd promised me I'd fight for a title and he's always delivered, so I'm very thankful to have a promoter like that. He takes care of the business and I have to take of business in the ring."
Jack (20-1-3, 12 KOs), 33, a Sweden native fighting out of Las Vegas and one of the top talents in the Mayweather Promotions stable, added that he was also very thankful that Mayweather wanted him to fight on the undercard of such a major event.
"It's an honor to be part of such a big event," Jack said. "It's not just boxing and MMA fans talking about this event, everyone is talking about it, all over the world. It will probably break the pay-per-view record [of 4.6 million buys set in 2015 by Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao]. I am thankful to be part of it and want to make the best of it come fight night."
Mayweather has said ever since he founded Mayweather Promotions that he wanted to handle his own fights but also pave the way for other fighters.
"It's been great to be in a position as a promoter to give knowledge to young fighters," Mayweather said. "It's one of my ultimate goals to take a young fighter and make them a household name. I want to take fighters to the next level."
Jack faces two-time world titleholder Cleverly (30-3, 16 KOs), 30, of Wales, who is coming off his title win in October, when he stopped Juergen Braehmer in the sixth round on Braehmer's turf in Germany.
That win came after Cleverly took a year off following a decision loss to Andrzej Fonfara in a barnburner in October 2015 in which they set several CompuBox light heavyweight records with the avalanche of punches they threw and landed. Jack said he knows what he is in for.
"Cleverly is a very tough guy and I don't think he's going to run. He will come to fight, and that fits my style and we'll make an exciting fight for the fans. I'm not expecting an easy fight. Some people talk about how I'm the favorite, but I respect him. But I also believe I am the better fighter."Badou Jack
"Cleverly is a very tough guy and I don't think he's going to run," Jack said. "He will come to fight, and that fits my style and we'll make an exciting fight for the fans. I'm not expecting an easy fight. Some people talk about how I'm the favorite, but I respect him. But I also believe I am the better fighter. Nothing is easy on this level. I'm going in with the mindset of an underdog.
"We've got a game plan and I have lot of experience. I'm very confident that I got what it takes to beat him."
He also believes he will be stronger at his new weight.
"It's not easy to make 175 pounds for me either, to be honest," he said. "I fought in the amateurs 11 years at 178 pounds. I'm a pretty big guy, but this has been my best training camp. I had a private chef. I have everything on point. I've been able to recover easier than in other camps because I don't have to struggle that much to make weight, so I have a lot more energy."
Once Jack's fight with Cleverly is in the books, he said he is looking forward to watching the main event and to seeing Mayweather win.
"I'm excited to see it," he said. "I believe Conor really believes he can win. He's going to try, but he's going to find out a little different when you get in there with Floyd. I believe Floyd will stop him 100 percent. Some people say this fight is bad for boxing. I think it's good for boxing. We'll get some MMA fans, there's a good undercard and it will generate a lot of money."