Badou Jack-James DeGale fight starts busy year for Mayweather Promotions

Leonard Ellerbe rushed into the restaurant and nearly dropped his second cellphone as he greeted a reporter on Monday.

The CEO of Mayweather Promotions was 15 minutes late for a sit-down interview with the Review-Journal, but Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s close business partner had a valid excuse.

No, Ellerbe wasn’t replying to the latest batch of “is Mayweather coming back?” emails.

Ellerbe had a phone news conference that dragged on to promote Saturday’s super middleweight unification bout between Badou Jack and James DeGale, a Showtime card being put on by Mayweather Promotions at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

The teleconference started a busy week for Ellerbe and his Las Vegas-based promotional company. Ellerbe flew to Cincinnati on Tuesday for a news conference to announce Adrien Broner’s Feb. 18 bout against Adrian Granados, another Mayweather Promotions event, and headed to New York on Wednesday to begin the Jack-DeGale fight week.

“Everyone always wants to talk about Floyd,” Ellerbe said. “That’s fine, but he’s a promoter now and we have a big year coming up. We’re working on four events to start the first quarter of 2017.”

Ellerbe wasn’t even referring to the celebrity match between Chris Brown and Soulja Boy that Mayweather announced last week or the monthly local cards Mayweather Promotions hosts at Sam’s Town. Ellerbe said he already had 46 media requests as of Monday for credentials to the celebrity match.

“That’s Floyd’s project,” Ellerbe said about the fight between the singer and rapper. “He has big plans on that. He’s still working out the details, but it’s happening and it won’t be the last (celebrity) card. He’s working on others.”

Ellerbe’s project is a televised boxing card on Feb. 24, which will celebrate Mayweather’s 40th birthday. The fourth event was a local 5K run for children in March, one of many events Mayweather Promotions hosts for youth in Las Vegas during the year.

Ellerbe said 2016 was a year to figure out how to approach for life after Mayweather the boxer, who retired in September of 2015.

“We have the experience of putting on the biggest shows,” Ellerbe said. “We’ve done all that. Now it’s time to have our 30 fighters grow. We’re not going to rush it or put all our stock into one fighter. We want to be the best boxing company and we’re already in the top three.”

JACK-DEGALE UNIFICATION

Badou Jack wants to end his WBC title reign at 168 pounds with a signature victory over James DeGale, the IBF titlist from England on Saturday.

“It’s time to move up to 175,” said Jack, who’s the only champion in Mayweather Promotion’s stable. “But I’m focused on DeGale. I want to prove that I’m the best at 168.”

Jack (20-1-2, 12 knockouts), 33, from Sweden, and DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs), 30, have been on a collision course to meet in the ring for more than a year, but their rivalry goes back to the 2008 Olympics. Jack was bounced in the first round of the middleweight tournament and DeGale took the gold medal.

Jack, a Las Vegas resident, is a plus-245 underdog to DeGale, according to VegasInsider.com.

“I’m OK with being the underdog,” Jack said. “He’s the talker and the flashy fighter, but I’m the better overall fighter. I can’t wait to prove everyone wrong.”

In the co-main event of the Showtime card, Gervonta Davis will compete for his first world title when he meets Jose Pedraza, the IBF junior lightweight champion.

Davis is a rising 22-year-old promoted by Ellerbe and Mayweather.

“Everyone says Gervonta isn’t ready for this type of fight,” Ellerbe said. “Oh, he’s ready and I see him knocking out Pedraza. It’s his time and year.”

Contact Gilbert Manzano at gmanzano@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0492. Follow @gmanzano24 on Twitter.

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