Yusaf Mack Chases the Dream

By Robert Ecksel on June 21, 2011
Yusaf Mack Chases the Dream
Mack is going to box and move, stick to his game plan, stay in his comfort zone

“This is my dream. I always wanted to be world champion. Hopefully, come Saturday, I can make the dream come true…”

In co-main event on Saturday’s HBO doubleheader broadcast from St. Charles, Missouri, Yusaf Mack (29-3-2, 17 KOs), the IBF’s #1 ranked contender and USBA light heavyweight champion, is putting the finishing touches on what he hopes will be his boxing masterpiece over IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud (22-0, 18 KOs).

Mack was born and raised in West Philadelphia. Although he’s been dividing his training between the Poconos and the James Shuler Memorial Boxing Gym, Schuler’s, where Mack and I spoke, is his second home. He was seven years old when he entered the gym, and he remembers the day he was first exposed to a world he didn’t know existed, and which he has since made his own.

Mack has his work cut out for him Saturday night. The 29-year-old Cloud is making the third defense of the title he won by decision over Clinton Woods in 2009. Cloud is strong, has heavy hands, a title and undefeated record to defend. But Mack isn’t going to fight fire with fire. “I plan to go in there and box,” said Mack, “give him a boxing lesson, probably come out with the W.”

Percy Custus, Mack’s longtime trainer, believes Mack is faster than Cloud and has better skills. He expects the fight will go the distance and has Mack doing “a lot of cardio, a lot of running.”

“We have been watching Tavoris and we know he’s a great fighter,” said Custus. “We know he’s in shape and we know what we’re up against. We will do what we have to do and make adjustments as we go along on the day of the fight.”

Talking about Mack’s strengths, Custus said, “He’s an elusive boxer-puncher. I want him to fight the best guy that’s out there right now.”

I asked Mack about his relationship with Custus and he said, “He knows my ins and outs. He knows my attitude. He knows when and when not to put pressure on me.”

Mack first met WBC/IBO light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins in 1994 and they have been friends ever since. That both men hail from Philadelphia is part of the attraction. Bernard being Bernard is the other.

“I have known Bernard for my whole boxing life,” said Mack, “and he was one of the guys who has given me pointers and helped me throughout my career. Seeing what he has accomplished and in particular what he did to Pascal gives me that extra drive and inspiration that lets me know I can win this fight.”

When Mack signed to fight Cloud, Hopkins had some sage advice for his fellow Philly fighter. “He was telling me, ‘Just box. Just box him.’”

That’s what Mack intends to do. He’s going to box and move, move and box, stick to his game plan, stay in his comfort zone. He’s also determined to take anything Hopkins tells him seriously.

“Bernard didn’t drink. He didn’t smoke. It was all boxing,” Mack told Boxing.com. “And now he’s successful in life.

“This is my dream. I always wanted to be world champion. And hopefully fight time, everything comes together for me. Hopefully, come Saturday, I can make the dream come true.”

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  1. Joe 03:27am, 06/21/2011

    This looks like a nice matchup and I think it should be a pretty good fight. I’m thinking Cloud gets him down the stretch. UD 12.

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