John Jackson Steps into ESPN Spotlight

Jackson needed just 56 seconds to knock out Alexis Pena last month in Atlantic City.

Written by John Archibald, Resolution Sports

Heavy-Handed Virgin Islands Native Battling Unbeaten Cerresso Fort

When junior middleweight John “Dah Rock” Jackson (15-1, 14 KOs) stepped in front of an ESPN crowd in Atlantic City for the first time last month, he needed just 56 seconds and a brutal left hook to finish a first round destruction of Mexican scrapper Alexis Pena. This Friday night, the Virgin Islands native returns to Atlantic City in the co-feature of another ESPN Friday Night Fights card, facing the undefeated Cerresso Fort (16-0-1, 11 KOs) of Minnesota.

“We were there on the last ESPN card, and a lot of us who live on this side came out and supported,” Jackson said of his bout last month in Atlantic City. “ESPN loved it. They loved the energy, they loved the hype. They also loved my fighting style, so they called to bring us back.”

Jackson, who is the son of former world champion knockout artist Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, fought on that card in March alongside his cousin, Samuel Rogers (13-0, 7 KOs), who earned a decision victory over Ivan Ziglar on a televised bout. Also in his corner was his brother, Julius (15-0, 11 KOs), an undefeated super middleweight who did not compete on the show because his opponent pulled out before the weigh-ins. Needless to say, boxing runs in the family bloodline.

On Friday night, Jackson will deal with a dangerous fighter in Fort, a man looking to spoil his second trip to New Jersey in six weeks.

“He’s undefeated. He’s very heavy-handed and has some good power behind his punches,” Jackson remarked. “I’ve seen a couple of his fights, and he’s pretty good. It’s going to be an exciting fight. Nobody should miss it, and everybody needs to be tuned in. It’s going to be an exciting war, man. It’s going to be history in the making.”

The determined Virgin Islands native did not allow himself much rest after the defeat of Pena, and he also did not hesitate in accepting this scrap with Fort as soon as it was offered to him. After putting in another full camp, he feels that he is ready to return to the ESPN stage as the co-main event.

“Training was amazing,” he confirmed. “Camp started not too long after our last fight in Atlantic City last month, so we’ve pretty much stayed training. We went to Puerto Rico and got some good sparring, got some different looks from some other guys. It was an amazing camp, man, one of the best we’ve had so far. We’ve trained for 12 rounds, actually, so we’re ready for anything he brings to the table.”

This bout is slated for 10 rounds of action, but the brick-fisted Jackson has only seen the 5th round three times in his 16-contest professional career. However, Fort looks the part of a very tough test for the 24-year-old slugger, and Jackson is not overlooking the Minnesota fighter by any means.

“I’m very excited. This is a blessing,” Jackson said of Friday night. “Not a lot of people get this opportunity. It’s been a real blessing. God has really been there for us. Right now, I’m ranked number 15 by the WBC, so that’s very exciting and gives me a lot of motivation to push harder and keep climbing. I’m at a point in my career where I can’t wait to get in there to keep striving for my ultimate goal, which is to become a world champion. That’s where I’m at right now.”

While his time in the ring may have been short when he last came to the Garden State, Jackson delivered the unquestionable Knockout of the Night by means of his left hand, causing an absolute eruption from a capacity crowd at Resorts Casino. He says spectators can certainly expect to be entertained once again on Friday night when he and Fort go to battle.

“Expect to see action from the beginning to the end,” he stated. “This is going to be an exciting fight. You have two heavy-handed punchers in the ring, and you just can’t miss it, man. It’s really going to be an exciting fight. Tune in because it will be must-see.”

ESPN’s Friday Night Fights will take place at the Tropicana Resort & Casino, and doors are scheduled to open at 7:00 p.m. with the first bell slated to ring an hour later. The live telecast of the main card will go onto ESPN2 at 10:30 p.m.

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