- Jalil Hackett is one of the hottest prospects in pro boxing.
- He signed terms with Mayweather Promotions in 2021 and is Floyd Mayweather’s youngest protege.
- Hackett returns to the ring Saturday for his fourth pro bout and wants to be a multi-weight champ.
LAS VEGAS — The most influential figures from Mayweather Promotions routinely sent boxing prospect Jalil Hackett messages of support before they even signed terms with the youngster.
The onset of the coronavirus pandemic had compromised the live events business and as boxing was no exception, the combat sports industry was put on pause.
But that did not stop CEO Leonard Ellerbe and founder Floyd Mayweather from reaching out to Hackett.
Fighting, at that point, was the least of their concerns.
“How’s your mental health,” they’d ask Hackett, who was still in high school at the time. “How’s your education?”
Hackett felt loved.
“I felt like they cared about me,” he told Insider ahead of the fourth bout of his pro career April 9 at the Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas. “That was important to me.”
It wasn’t the only time he felt like Mayweather Promotions cared.
Floyd Mayweather himself took Hackett for a run during one of the prospect’s trips to Las Vegas, the combat sports capital of the world — and a place Floyd has called home for decades.
After their cardio workout Mayweather sat down with Hackett and talked to him about life for more than an hour.
“You’ve always got to put yourself first in this game,” Mayweather told Hackett. “Prioritize your mental health,” he said.
Hackett told us that people spend a lot of money just to meet Mayweather. “He was sitting down with me for free … it meant a lot to speak to him like that when I was only 18.”
Hackett is Gervonta Davis’ preferred sparring partner
Hackett caught the attention of Ellerbe and Mayweather because of a recommendation from Derrick Curry, a Mayweather Promotions scout on the East Coast, who continues to manage the teenager.
“In the summer of 2019 Derrick came to my gym, watched me workout, and we talked,” Hackett said.
Curry, impressed with young Jalil, got Hackett into camp with one of the sport’s most popular fighters, Gervonta Davis, when ‘Tank’ was preparing to fight Ricardo Nunez for his homecoming bout in Baltimore.
Tank’s coach Calvin Ford was impressed with what he saw in Hackett, who has quickly become Davis’ preferred training partner according to insiders with knowledge of the situation.
“Coach Calvin vouched for me to Leonard and to Floyd,” said Hackett. “Two years later, in 2021, I put pen to paper. The rest is history.”
The sparring sessions between Hackett and Tank have become something of a legend.
“He’s a different animal,” Hackett told us. “A lot of people say Tank hits hard for 130-pounds, 135-pounds. And I tell people, ‘Nah, he hits hard in general!'”
Hackett once engaged Tank in a 15-round sparring session and people who were there in the gym at the time still talk about what they saw.
“Whether it’s sparring or a real fight, if you’re getting in there with Tank, you better be ready to work,” Hackett said.
Hackett would rather be a multi-weight world champ than retire unbeaten
Floyd Mayweather is one of the few championship boxers who retired from the fight game undefeated.
There is something of a hangover in the modern era where fighters are perceived to cling to an unbeaten record — perhaps at the expense of making the biggest and best bouts available.
But if you speak to Hackett, it’s clear he’d rather retire from the sport having triumphed in multiple weight classes, than retire undefeated.
“My focus is always to improve,” he told us. “My pro debut was good, second fight was good, and I wish I did better in the third fight because everybody was looking for a big performance.
“But now with this fourth fight on April 9, it’s all about improvement. Correcting all my little mistakes can make a big difference.”
Hackett hasn’t yet celebrated any of three wins so far. There’s smiles, messages of congratulations and things like that, but there’s no big nights out.
“It’s nothing to really celebrate if you ask me,” he said. “I feel like I haven’t accomplished what I want to accomplish so there’s no need to celebrate heavy.
“As I grow older, the goal is to hopefully win world championships but I want to move up and win like how Roy Jones Jr. did. He won belts at 154, 160, 175 … that would be great.
“Some of the best fighters ever, Hall of Famers, they don’t have undefeated records. I think the only two fighters in the Hall of Fame who are undefeated are Floyd Mayweather and Rocky Marciano.
“So, I don’t plan on leaving this game undefeated, but I know when I’m retired I’ll want people to say, ‘Man, Jalil fought the best fighters in some of the best fights ever.'”
Hackett fights Jose Belloso during the untelevised part of Saturday’s Premier Boxing Champions event broadcast on Showtime. He wants to fight four times this year.