Badou Jack knows how much boxing loyalists want to see a changing of the guard from Adonis Stevenson, the longtime World Boxing Council light-heavyweight champion from Canada.
“The whole boxing world is praying for me to beat him,” Jack, 34, said. “I want to have everyone’s back, but it’s easier said than done.”
The former super-middleweight champion (22-1-2, 13 knockouts) will have his shot Saturday night on Showtime when he meets Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
The bout follows the WBC featherweight title fight between champion Gary Russell and South El Monte’s Joseph Diaz Jr. on a card from Maryland that begins at 7:05 p.m. Pacific.
Unlike three other men who fought on the second-richest pay-per-view card in history, Jack, who trains in Las Vegas for promoter Floyd Mayweather Jr., returns to the ring Saturday.
On Aug. 26, he scored a fifth-round technical knockout victory that sent opponent Nathan Cleverly to retirement in the co-main event to Mayweather’s victory over Conor McGregor.
Against Stevenson, 40, Jack meets a champion making his ninth title defense who might be better known for avoiding a defining bout with another light-heavyweight champion, Russia’s Sergey Kovalev.
It hasn’t helped Stevenson’s profile that all of his defenses have been in Canada.
“To be honest, I think I’ll have more fans than him. He’s been ducking all the tough competition,” Jack said. “He’s finally stepped into it now, but I’m the opposite of him. I want to fight the best. I want to fight Kovalev and all the guys he’s ducking.”
Stevenson possesses fight-changing power in his left hand. Jack says he’s addressed that in training.
“We’re going to find a way to win, regardless of his power. I’m competitive,” Jack said.
Beyond that, Jack takes pride in leaning on his access to Mayweather without trying to emulate the retired champion’s flash as others who’ve worked in the gym have tried — and failed — to do so.
“I’m my own man. That’s the problem with a lot of these young guys. They try to copy his style. My own style works for me,” Jack said.
“Floyd has done a great job as a promoter for my career, and he does come into the gym and gives me good advice about who I’m fighting at that time.”
Mayweather counseling a fighter to beat a guy who everyone in the game is tired of … there’s a novel concept.
Follow Lance Pugmire on Twitter @latimespugmire