As two-division world titleholder Badou Jack prepares for his next fight, he can't help but think of the opponent from his last fight, former light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson, who remains hospitalized following a catastrophic brain injury suffered in a fight last month.
On May 19, in Toronto, Jack challenged then-champion Stevenson for the 175-pound world title and they fought to an action-packed majority draw.
Jack, who has won world titles at super middleweight and light heavyweight, has not boxed since, but he is due back to the ring to face fellow contender Marcus Browne for a vacant interim world title on Jan. 19 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in the Showtime PPV co-feature of the Manny Pacquiao-Adrien Broner welterweight title bout.
Stevenson, meantime, returned from the draw with Jack on Dec. 1 and suffered the brain injury when he lost the title by 11th-round knockout to Oleksandr Gvozdyk in Quebec City.
Stevenson underwent emergency brain surgery and was in a medically induced coma for three weeks following the bout. Stevenson only recently was taken out of the coma by his doctors and remains hospitalized but has shown some signs of improvement.
Simone "Sisi" God, Stevenson's girlfriend and the mother of his daughter, issued a statement a few days before Christmas saying that Stevenson, 41, was out of the coma and more recently told media in Stevenson's hometown of Montreal that he had begun to speak and was able to move his hands and feet, though he would have a long rehabilitation process ahead of him. She also said that doctors had closed a hole that had been made in his throat for a tracheotomy.
While Jack (22-1-3, 13 KOs), 35, of Las Vegas, is focused on his bout with Browne (22-0, 16 KOs), 28, of Staten Island, New York -- the winner of which will be in position as the mandatory challenger for full titleholder Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs) -- he also said he is thinking of his fallen opponent and hoping for the best.
"I was very emotional about it because I've been in that ring with him in my last fight," Jack said on a recent conference call with boxing reporters to discuss his upcoming fight. "And he took a lot of punishment in that fight. He was stumbling around in the hotel after [our] fight. Everybody said he really took a beating. So, it's sad. But this is what we signed up for. I've been praying for him since this thing happened. I'm glad he woke up and hopefully he can recover. It's the business. It's nothing personal.
"This is just business. We're trying to feed our families. Hopefully you get back to normal so he can enjoy his family and his kids and everything. He just had a daughter before for the fight, so it's sad, but God willing, he'll come back to normal."
Browne, who will be in by far his most significant fight, was on the same call and echoed Jack's sentiments.
"It's a sad and unfortunate situation, but this is what we sign up for, what we sign on the dotted line for, getting in the ring," Browne said. "That's the risk that we take at fighting. I feel bad for him, but hopefully he comes out of this with all of his faculties, so he could be able to enjoy his family, like Badou said.
"Most importantly, he's older. He's an older fighter. Father Time caught up with him. I heard he was going through a lot of things outside of the ring, so maybe that was part of the reason. But hopefully he will be all right."
Stevenson (29-2-1, 24 KOs) made nine successful defenses over a 5½-year title reign before the loss to Gvozdyk (16-0, 13 KOs).