Unbeaten Swedish super middleweight to fight at Hard Rock, eyes shot at title

Badou Jack didn’t start his professional boxing career until 2009, but the 29-year-old super middleweight from Sweden quickly is making up for lost time.

Jack (14-0, 10 knockouts) is looking to position himself for a title shot in the next year. His next test comes Friday against Farah Ennis in a 10-round bout that is the co-main event of a Showtime-televised card at the Hard Rock Hotel.

“This is another important step for my career,” Jack said. “This will be one of my toughest fights, but I will win.”

The 30-year-old Ennis (21-1, 12 KOs) is a hard puncher, but Jack has shown he can take a punch. On Feb. 23 in Detroit, Jack outlasted Don Mouton (12-7-1, 10 KOs) to win an eight-round unanimous decision. He also won an eight-round split decision over Alexander Brand (20-1, 16 KOs) on May 11 at Texas Station.

“Those kind of fights were good for me because I had to work hard to get the win,” Jack said. “I learned nothing in boxing comes easy. You have to earn everything you get.”

Since joining Mayweather Promotions in 2011, Jack said he has been training harder, eating smarter and heeding Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s advice.

“You see how hard Floyd works and how he takes care of himself, and you see the benefits of what he says,” said Jack, a sparring partner for some of Mayweather’s fights. “He’s been very supportive of my career.”

■ COMEBACK CONTINUES — Yuri Foreman, in the midst of a comeback after a 22-month layoff, will fight Jamaal Davis (14-9-1, six KOs) in an eight-round bout July 24 at New York’s Roseland Ballroom.

Foreman (30-2, eight KOs) lost his world junior middleweight title to Miguel Cotto (47-4, 30 KOs) in June 2010 at Yankee Stadium and then lost to Pawel Wolak (29-2-1, 19 KOs) in his next fight, in March 2011. After taking the time off, he won unanimous decisions this year against Brandon Baue (12-10, 10 KOs) and Gundrick King (18-10, 11 KOs).

“I was growing a little tired at the time,” Foreman said. “But I was getting the hunger back, and it’s a little different feeling now. I’m more mature. I’m more professional.”

Foreman, 32, had been through a lot. He aggravated his injured right knee in the Cotto fight and needed surgery. His longtime manager, Murray Wilson, died after suffering a heart attack four months after the Cotto loss. Foreman was studying to become a rabbi and start a family.

But he decided early this year to return to the ring. He has a new promoter (Lou DiBella) and a new manager (Len Zimmerman). He has a son born in March, and Foreman is about to become an ordained rabbi.

“Everything’s good,” Foreman said. “My knee is totally fine. I’ve had two fights already this year and had no troubles. My confidence is there. My stock had fallen, but I’m growing it back.”

■ CRUZ-SALIDO SIGNED — Orlando Salido and Orlando Cruz will fight for the vacant WBO featherweight title Oct. 12 on a Top Rank card at the Thomas & Mack Center. The bout will be on the undercard of the Timothy Bradley-Juan Manuel Marquez WBO welterweight title fight.

The 32-year-old Cruz (20-2-1, 10 KOs) announced in October that he was gay, and he would be the first openly gay fighter to win a world title.

The 32-year-old Salido (39-12-2, 27 KOs) won the WBO featherweight title in 2012 but lost it to Mikey Garcia on Jan. 13. Garcia vacated the title last month after failing to make the 126-pound limit for his fight with Juan Manuel Lopez.

“It’s a very competitive, evenly matched fight,” Top Rank chairman Bob Arum said. “When Cruz announced he was out of the closet, and the initial reaction came from it, I thought that would be that.

“But it’s had a huge impact on the gay community. We’re getting calls from people who’ve never been to a boxing match that want to buy tickets to this fight, so we’re developing a whole new fan base for the sport.”

■ PACQUIAO STAYS HOME — Manny Pacquiao will spend most of his time in the Philippines before his welterweight fight against Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) on Nov. 24 in Macau.

Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) usually trains in the Philippines before moving his camp to Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Los Angeles. But because the fight is in China, it doesn’t make sense for Pacquiao to train in the United States, so the only time he’ll be in America is to promote the fight.

“Freddie is going to come over (to the Philippines) and work with Manny there,” said Arum, Pacquiao’s promoter.

The media tour for the HBO Pay Per View fight will be in early August, with stops in New York and Los Angeles.

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.