Yusaf Mack Get’s Crack at IBF Champ Tavoris Cloud Saturday
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (June 22, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Yusaf Mack

Philadelphia’s Yusaf Mack, 29-3-2 (17), after 11 years of boxing will get his first shot at a world title when he meets IBF light heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud, 22-0 (18), on Saturday at The Family Arena, in St. Louis, MO.

Mack turned professional in November of 2000 and was 16-0-1 when he drew with fellow Philadelphian Randy Griffin, 17-1, in May of 2004. Griffin would go onto fight to another draw in 2007 with WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm. The following year he would lose to Sturm. He has only had one losing fight since then but is scheduled to return to the ring in Philadelphia the end of September.

Two fights after Mack’s draw with Griffin he won the vacant USBA super middleweight title stopping Shannon Miller, in Mack’s first main event. In 2006 Mack would lose for the first time in 25 fights in a IBF super middleweight eliminator for the #2 spot to Alejandro Berrio, 24-4, in Pompano, FL.

Mack lost his USBA title due to not defending it. In October of 2008 he tried regaining it only to lose to Librado Andrade, 25-1, in Las Vegas. Two fights later, Mack won the vacant NABA light heavyweight title defeating Daniel Judah, 22-2-3, in June of 2008. He would add the NABF title defeating Chris Henry, 23-1, in Salisbury, MD, by split decision in February of 2009.

In February of 2010 Mack lost to former champion, Glen Johnson, 49-13-2, in an IBF light heavyweight title eliminator. It would be his only bout in 2010. Mack’s inactivity has hurt him in his pursuit of a championship match. It was 9 months of inactivity prior to the Johnson match.

It would be 13 months before Mack would fight again in winning the IBF title eliminator over Otis Griffin, 23-6-2, in Woodland Hills, CA, by split decision. Griffin was the winner of Oscar DeLaHoya’s “The Next Great Champ” tournament. This win earned Mack the No. 1 spot in the IBF ratings and a shot at Cloud.

Cloud won the vacant title defeating the UK’s Clinton Woods, 42-4-1, by decision in 2009. He had two defenses in 2010, over Glen Johnson, and Fulgencio Zuniga, 24-4-1. Cloud’s last three fights have been by decision.

Mack has been in training camp at the Fernwood Resort, in the PA Pocono Mountains. He had excellent sparring partners like Dhafir Smith (recently beat Jeff Lacy). ”I feel that if he comes with the Dhafir jab he’ll beat him. He’s a good fighter,” said Smith. Another was Garrett Wilson (USBA Cruiser champ). “His footwork is phenomenal. I can’t wait until they say and the NEW IBF champion is Yusaf Mack,” said Wilson. On Monday back at Shulers Gym in West Philadelphia Mack was in the ring with Prince Badi Ajamu (former NBA champion). “We had a beautiful camp. I was there for 3 weeks. Yusaf is in great shape and stood up to the pressure,” said Ajamu.

Former IBF light middleweight champion Rob “Bam Bam” Hines is the assistant trainer. “We had a good camp for 4 weeks and Yusaf is in great shape,” said Hines. Percy “Buster” Custus is head trainer and manager for Mack. He is also owner of the James Shuler Memorial Gym, in West Philadelphia. This is the home gym for IBF Cruiserweight champion Steve “USS” Cunningham, and after Saturday, possibly the home of another world champion in Mack. The Gym was named in memory of former amateur champion and title challenger James Shuler. “He has sparred 12 rounds per day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He really looks good,” said Custus. Handling the cuts will be Willie Folk and Mack’s promoter is Steve Bash of Bash Boxing.

“I’m here to win the title. I’ve had 3 different styles in my sparring partners. I’ve watched 3 of his fights on tape and know what I have to do. After I beat Otis Griffin in my last fight I was right back into the gym the next day,” said Mack.

John DiSanto of www.phillyboxinghistory.com was snapping pictures of Mack and with Ajamu in the ring. Mack looks very confident. “I will be in the co-feature on HBO,” said Mack. Philadelphia now has 3 world champions in Cunningham and once again Bernard Hopkins the new WBC light heavyweight champion. I can see it now “IBF champion Yusaf Mack vs WBC champion Bernard Hopkins for the light heavyweight championship!” Or better yet, with the former world champion Harold Johnson at ringside, “for the Philadelphia light heavyweight championship”!


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