LUKE Jackson is ready to take on the world’s best.
The Hobart native is considered by many to be one of Australia’s best prospects and after a successful and lengthy amateur career, he has his eyes firmly fixed on fighting for a world title.
Before undertaking such a task though, Jackson will have to get past the rugged, power punching Mexican, Humberto de Santiago. The Tasmanian believes his ring smarts will be enough to ensure victory.
“I’ve got a very good I.Q. and I can figure guys out pretty quickly,” Jackson says.
“I’m also a good listener and I believe I have the best coach in the world in Billy Hussein. I will figure it out come fight night.”
Unlike many other fighters, Jackson is a straight shooter. He avoids the typical clichéd responses when asked if he’s thinking beyond his next opponent.
His father once told him, ‘you’ve got to crawl before you walk’ but Jackson was never even thinking of walking, ‘I just want to run’ was his response. He may have his eyes on a prize bigger than the one in front of him this weekend but that doesn’t mean he’s not prepared for battle.
“Of course I look beyond this guy,” Jackson says. “It doesn’t mean that I’ve overlooked him though, no way. I’ll go out there and I’ll win this fight. I believe I will because of the preparation I’ve put in.”
Should Jackson win, the opportunity for a world title fight could very well become a reality. The rumblings of a proposed bout against WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez have surfaced in recent times and it’s a fight that Jackson desperately wants.
“I do look forward to fighting Oscar Valdez and I want that fight and I don’t care if the fight is in Hobart, Melbourne, L.A. or Mexico City,” declares Jackson.
Not only does he want the fight, he genuinely believes he can win.
“It’s a fight that I think I can win,” he says. “I like Valdez, I like his style, that style suits me.”
Jeff Horn’s his recent shock victory over Manny Pacquiao has given boxing in Australia a much needed shot in the arm and Luke is keen to build on that. His relationship with Hobart’s premier is likely the real key to a potential Valdez fight eventuating.
“Jeff Horn was my Olympic room mate. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet and that’s a big call but he is,” said Jackson. “It couldn’t have happened to a better person. What he did has helped the sport immensely.”
“I’m on talking terms with the Premier of Hobart, Will Hodgman, and we text each other frequently and I’m telling him, I want the Valdez fight down here, you’ve got to make it happen.”
It’s easy to question whether or not Jackson is ready for this kind of jump in quality. Facing Oscar Valdez is a little different to the level of fighter that the Tasmanian has faced thus far but his time spent in the U.S. recently has given him the belief that he belongs at the top.
“We went and trained at Wildcard gym and Freddie Roach looked after us there. I sparred Alberto Machado from Puerto Rico, he’s Miguel Cotto’s prospect. He’s a super featherweight and ranked fifth in the WBO and I was giving him some great work so they kept wanting me to come back to spar him,” Jackson said.
“Machado just got the call up to fight Jezreel Corrales for the WBA title so I know I’m there man. I’ve just got to keep my head down and keep working hard and my time will come.”
It’s clear that at 32 years of age, Jackson needs his shot at the top to come soon. He’s aware of the position he’s in and he’s prepared for any opportunity that might come his way. He’s more than willing to fight any champion, not just Valdez.
“I’ll take anything they offer me brother. I’m 32 years old and I want it,” he says. “The better the opposition, the better I fight and I’ll fight out of my skin and with the right preparation and my team behind me, I think it can happen.”
Jackson’s self-belief is strong. Just how far it can take him is yet to be seen. His path to a shot at the top starts this weekend when he faces Humberto de Santiago. Win and that ever-elusive title shot could very well be within sight.
Words: Dan Attias/Follow Dan on Twitter
Photo: Bruno Ferreira