Former two-division world champion Badou Jack explored Toronto and Maple Leaf Square at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday just three days before he challenges light heavyweight king Adonis Stevenson in what will be the city’s most significant world title fight in more 30 years.
Stevenson-Jack is the most noteworthy fight in Toronto since Aaron Pryor defended his 140-pound title against Toronto-native Nicky Furlano on June 22, 1984 at Varsity Arena. Eleven years prior, on Sept. 22, 1973, Welterweight World Champion Jose Napoles defeated Canada’s Clyde Gray at the old Maple Leaf Gardens.
The most significant fight in Toronto boxing history took place more than 50 years ago when Heavyweight World Champion Muhammad Ali, on the heels of consecutive wins over Sonny Liston and Floyd Patterson, faced Toronto-native George Chuvalo. Ali defeated Chuvalo in the March 29, 1966 showdown at Maple Leafs Gardens in what was a grueling 15-round unanimous decision.
“To have my fight here in Toronto, and for it to be the biggest fight in the city in 30 years is amazing,” Jack said. “I will become the new WBC Light Heavyweight Champion in his own country, in his backyard.”
Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs), who has resided in Montreal since he was five-years-old, has fought just once in Toronto. The southpaw defended his WBC belt via knockout of Tommy Karpency at Richoh Coliseum in 2015 in a fight that he was heavily favored to win.
Most experts see Stevenson vs. Jack as much closer, perhaps even a 50-50 fight.
Jack (21-1-3, 13 KOs) is a former 168-pound and 175-pound champion who relinquished his light heavyweight title for the chance to challenge the longest reigning champion in the division, and the second-longest reigning champ in boxing.
“It’s become more of a reality now that I’m here in Toronto,” Jack said. “Now it’s just the countdown to fight night. My focus is making weight and becoming the new world champion. Nothing else matters. The trash talk, the critics, they don’t affect me at all.
“I’m younger, I’m stronger, I’m faster. I’m the better guy.”