Memories of father light fire under Mack
After dropping his last fight and losing his father to cirrhosis, Yusaf Mack is fighting with renewed vigor -- and with a new outlook on his career.
Originally Published: June 3, 2008By Tim Smith | Special to ESPN.com
Chris Cozzone/Fightwireimages.comMack, right, had Andrade on the ropes -- until fitness woes caught up with the Philly fighter.Yusaf Mack, a tough Philly fighter, always knew that he had enough natural talent to become a world champion in boxing. Maybe he relied upon it just a little too much during his run through the super middleweight division. Mack ate the wrong foods, never really focused on training properly and gained the reputation of a boxer who didn't have the stamina to go the distance. It cost him twice -- most recently against Librado Andrade last October. Mack dropped Andrade in the first round, but ran out of gas and Andrade stopped him on a seventh-round TKO. It was shortly after that fight that Mack's father, Terry Smith, told him that time was running out on his career and if he wanted to get the most from all that natural talent, he was going to have to apply himself more fully to his profession. Terry Smith died of cirrhosis of the liver in February, but those words still rumble inside Mack's head every day he steps into a gym to prepare for a fight.
"Before he passed away he said, 'Win a title for me,'" Mack said. "That was a lot of motivation for me. I'm still going through some stuff [from his death]. But he's feeding my fire right now. What he said is really making me work harder than ever." Mack (24-2-2, 15 KOs), who is now campaigning at light heavyweight, will take on Daniel Judah (20-2-3, 10 KOs) in a 12-round match at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, N.Y., in the main event of ESPN2's "Wednesday Night Fights." The clock is ticking for the 28-year-old Mack. He fought at super middleweight for eight years, but fell short in his bid to fight for a world title. Mack isn't exactly starting over by moving up, yet he can't afford to waste time and he can't afford too many setbacks.
AP Photo/Ed GonserMack, left, is hoping to take the light heavyweight division by storm.
This is a good fight to let Yusaf know that there are no walkovers anymore, so when you get the next shot you'll be prepared.
-- Promoter Tommy Gallagher, who used to train Yusaf Mack