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17 APRIL 2014

 

Bigger is Better for Mack


Yusaf Mack: HoganPhotos.com
Yusaf Mack: HoganPhotos.com

By Derek Bonnett: Leading up to Yusaf Mack’s twelve round NABF light heavyweight boxing title fight in Salisbury, Maryland, USA on February 6, the common opinion was that Mack wouldn’t be able to handle the weight. If he couldn’t take the punches at super middleweight, how was he going to handle bigger punches from bigger men?

I tried to find the answer to this question myself the week leading up to the contest, but Mack’s manager Rory Donadio claimed the New York-based Philadelphian was too deep into his training to comment. The answer, it seems, turned out to be focus. Focus on honing his skills and working out a plan rather than shedding seven additional pounds. The move from 168 to 175 paid off. Big time.

“I just felt weak at 168,” Mack acknowledged. “I walk around at about 188, so it was just killing me the last several years to make super middleweight. I’m stronger. I have the stamina. Overall, I’m just better.”

In regards to the Chris Henry bout, which gave Mack his biggest win to date and the NABF title, the champion summed his success up as follows:

“I had to show a lot of heart. I just wanted it more. He tried mauling me and being rough. He tried to frustrate me to get me out of my game,” Mack reasoned. “I just stayed focus and I won. I felt the scores were a little closer than they ought to have been.”

Maybe it shouldn’t have been as much of a surprise. After all, Mack, 27-2-2 (16), had fought above super middleweight numerous times earlier in his career and he was always victorious. In fact, the only times Mack, 29, faced defeat was after he tortured himself to make 168. In his most recent defeat to Librado Andrade, Mack dropped the iron chinned Mexican in the opening round to get off to a good start, but faded in the middle rounds as he lost steam. According to Mack, there will be no looking back.

“I won’t be moving up or down from here on out. I am a light heavyweight for good. The move has probably added three or four more good years to my career. Right now, I am one or two fights away from a world title shot,” Mack said confidently.

Most of the recent top light heavyweights started their careers below 175 as well. Joe Calzaghe, as we all know, only recently moved up after a lengthy reign at super middleweight. Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson, and the man many believe to be the best of the lot, Chad Dawson, all grew into their light heavyweight chassis from middleweight. Hopefully for Mack, he’ll find similar success at a heavier weight class.

Mack seems to know the light heavyweight division well and admits to have studied it since before he moved back up into its waters. Names like Calzaghe, Dawson, and Johnson rolled off of his tongue without much prodding.

“Joe Calzaghe was the man, but he had nothing more to prove. Not to anybody. The man is thirty-seven years old. It was his time,” Mack stated. “People criticized him for fighting at home. Well, he came over here proved himself against the best too. So, now Chad Dawson is number one. He’s got good boxing skills, speed, and power. As a fighter, I’m a fan. He seems like a nice guy, so I’d like to meet him. Let’s do it.”

Dawson-Mack may not be the primary light heavyweight fight on the minds of fans, but on the East Coast it could be a significant bout with Dawson’s Connecticut fan base and Mack’s Philly and New York connections. It’s the kind of bout that could do well at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Madison Square Garden, or in Atlantic City.

However, Yusaf Mack isn’t against putting in a little more work to force the title shot he so much covets.

“I’d really like to fight the winner of the rematch between Glen Johnson and Daniel Judah next. I thought Glen beat him the first time, but they only gave him a draw. He outworked him then and I think he’ll out hustle Daniel again,” Mack predicted. “Just give me a shot. Give me that chance. I learned from my losses and that’s what makes a greater fighter.”

Indeed it does.

A warning to all light heavyweight contenders in the land. There is a new spoiler on the scene and his name is Yusaf Mack.

February 10, 2009


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