ATLANTA - If there’s a consistent theme in Badou Jack’s time spent on the title stage, it’s his ability to provide fits for the ringside judges.
The former two-division titlist found himself in familiar territory in his latest ring adventure, going 12 hard rounds with secondary 175-pound titlist Jean Pascal in a bout which saw both light heavyweights hit the deck and also produced varying opinions on whom deserved the nod Saturday night at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. General perception of the bout—a late entry for Fight of the Year consideration—was a close fight in either direction, which is precisely how it played out on the three scorecards.
Jack (22-3-3, 13KOs) prevailed by a score of 114-112 on the card of judge Julie Lederman, while judges Barry Lindenman and Nelson Vasquez turned in matching cards of 114-112 in favor of Pascal.
Understandably, both fighters believed they deserved to win—though with Jack’s side feeling a little harder about this outcome than any of his previous close calls.
“We just can’t seem to catch a break,” Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of Mayweather Promotions claimed to BoxingScene.com and other reporters following the Showtime-televised bout. “I feel bad, each and every fight he comes out there, he gives it his all. He’s come up short a few times.”
In eight career fight with some form of a major title at stake, Jack has seen all but one go to the scorecards. He managed a 5th round knockout of Nathan Cleverly to win a light heavyweight belt in August 2017, more than two full years after a 12-round majority decision win over Anthony Dirrell to begin his super middleweight title reign. Most had Jack winning the fight with Dirrell without any debate, as was the case in his successful first title defense versus England’s George Groves where he had to settle for a split decision win.
A 12-round draw with Lucian Bute in April 2016 was eventually overturned to a disqualification victory for Jack, after Bute tested positive for a banned substance. From there came final 12-round draw verdicts with James Degale in a Jan. 2017 super middleweight unification bout and then-lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson last May.
The one bout to go to the scorecards which didn’t produce a controversial outcome was Jack’s lopsided loss to Marcus Browne this past January. Of course, the Las Vegas-based Swedish export had bigger issues with which to contend as he suffered a horrific cut which ran along the length of his forehead from which he still sports a surgical scar.
Jack added to his woes on Saturday after hitting the deck in the 4th round versus Canada’s Pascal, though responding with a dramatic knockdown of his own as Pascal was sent crashing to and through the ropes in the 12th and final round. Those who believed the fight was on the table to that point considered the sequence enough to tip it in Jack’s favor.
As has been the story of his stay on the title stage, the ringside officials were split in that belief.
“It’s really disheartening to Floyd, to me and to all of his fans,” Ellerbe believes. “He showed you why he’s a great champion. He gave it his all out there tonight, and I felt as though he came away with the victory. He came up on the short end of the stick, once again.
“Hopefully they can do the rematch. It was a great fight and the fans are the winners.”
Unfortunately, it was another title fight occasion where Jack was the only one who wasn’t an official winner.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox