The Breakdown from Boxing Analyst Steve Farhood:
On Graduation Day, ShoBox is the prestigious prep school, handing out diplomas. The students are boxing prospects who have completed the required courses, or in this case, fights. They’re ready to move on.
This year, Graduation Day falls on the last day in February. The prospects are unbeaten super middleweights J’Leon Love and Badou Jack.
But before they earn those diplomas, each has one more fight to win.
ShoBox’s mission statement hasn’t changed in 13 years: match prospects tough, giving them the opportunity to separate themselves from the pack and advance to contender status.
Love and Jack have been matched tough, both on ShoBox and other platforms. At this point, Jack is nearing a title shot, and Love isn’t far behind. As a result, they have just a wee bit to gain and a whole lot to lose.
It’s Graduation Day.
The next level beckons.
Love proved tough enough last May, when he rose from the canvas to edge Philadelphia contender Gabriel Rosado on the televised undercard of the Floyd Mayweather-Robert Guerrero pay-per-view show.
But the considerable momentum Love created with that high-profile 10-rounder was all but erased when he tested positive for a banned diuretic. Love was suspended for six months, and the result of the bout was changed to a no-contest.
In December, a rebound kayo of former world title challenger Lajuan Simon reestablished Love as a fighter on the rise. He’s recently jumped to super middleweight, and while he’s not as close to a title shot as Jack, Love is well-positioned for a run at the top 10.
This time around, Love duels with Vlad Biosse, an athletic southpaw from New England. Biosse will be the fifth lefty Love has faced as a pro. Boxing is the ultimate what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport. If Love is to stay on course, he’ll need an impressive win.
I nominate Jack as the poster boy for the globalization of boxing: He was born in Sweden; he fought for Gambia in the 2008 Olympics (his father hailed from that African nation); and as a member of Floyd Mayweather’s Money Team, he’s based in Las Vegas.
Last September, Jack made a gigantic jump in class when he took on Mexico’s Marco Antonio Periban in Las Vegas. Periban had just lost a majority decision to Sakio Bika in a bout for the vacant WBC super middleweight title, so when Jack proved more than competitive in fighting to a draw (I was ringside for the Periban fight, and thought Jack deserved the verdict), he cemented his status as world-class.
If Jack wants a crack at Bika, he might have to first fight his way past England’s James DeGale (an Olympic gold medalist), as well as Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. But one challenge at a time.
On ShoBox, Jack, who’s a dedicated bodypuncher, will trade shots with North Carolina’s Derek Edwards. No draws this time. He must secure a win.