“My dad gave me the name ‘Dah Rock’. He said that when I hit it feels like a rock in my gloves. The island we’re from, they call it the rock too. Plus, God is my rock. I heard him say that and I said ‘yeah. I like it.'”
Growing up the son of one of boxing’s hardest hitters ever, you have some pretty big gloves to fill if you plan on becoming a fighter, but so far, Virgin Islands slugger John “Dah Rock” Jackson (15-1, 14 KOs), son of legendary champion Julian “The Hawk” Jackson, isn’t doing so bad at it.
16 fights into his career, the elder Jackson was still fighting preliminaries. Going into his 17th fight, WBC #15 Jackson is set to face St. Paul, Minnesota’s undefeated “Sir” Cerresso Fort (16-0-1, 11 KOs) in the televised six-round co-main event this Friday (April 19) at the Tropicana Showroom in the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City and live across the country on ESPN Friday Night Fights (10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2 HD, ESPN Deportes and Watch ESPN and later televised Saturday April 20, at 2:30 a.m. on ESPNEWS).
Presented by Sampson Boxing, the spectacular tripleheader of world-class boxing will be topped by La Romana, Dominican Republic’s dynamic Javier “El Abejon” Fortuna (21-0, 15 KOs) defending his interim WBA World featherweight title against Sinaloa, Mexico’s Miguel “Mikol” Zamudio (25-1-1, 13 KOs) and will also feature Ghana’s Emmanuel Lartei Lartey (14-0-1, 7 KOs) taking on the Dominican Republic’s Jonathan Batista (13-0, 6 KOs) in a six/eight-round welterweight battle of undefeateds.
“A lot of people compare me to my dad because of the power I got from him, but my dad was something special,” admitted Jackson of his father, who also serves as his assistant trainer (with head trainer David Rogers). “He had that one-punch power that puts guys to sleep. I’m glad I got some of what he had at least. And I’m glad to be his son and represent him.”
Jackson says he’s ready for war against the formidable Fort, a match-up that could prove to be the runaway winner of Fight of the Night.
“I know he’s undefeated and a very strong fighter, and a hard hitter also. We’re both heavy-handed. I’m going in there focused and ready for war. I know it’ll be exciting. The people who tune in are going to love it. I’m not going out for a KO. I’m just going in to work and it if comes, it comes. Early or late I will take it, but I’ll go in there and do what we worked and come out with the impressive win.”
Unlike his father at similar points in their careers, the younger Jackson has already suffered a career loss. Last September in Las Vegas, he dropped a close but unanimous decision to the streaking Willie Nelson in a battle for the NABF Championship.
“I learned a lot,” he admitted. “It was the best fight I’ve had to date, an exciting ten-rounder and I fought hard. It could have gone either way. I learned a lot about myself. I learned I can go ten and I can take a punch. It was a great experience.”
Jackson is one of a fistic trio with his brother, undefeated super middleweight contender Julius “The Chef” Jackson (15-0, 11 KOs) and cousin, undefeated super welterweight Samuel “Rock City Cobra” Rogers (13-0, 6 KOs), known as “The Hawk’s Flock” a play on Julius Jackson’s fighting nickname.
“We mostly spar with each other. We go real hard at each other, but we don’t try to see who is better. We train three times a week, so we can’t be trying to win every day. Sometimes, we each get the best of each other and there are some wars, but there is no family rivalry.”
Jackson says that, like his father, the dream is to eventually strap a world-title belt around his waist for his beautiful homeland.
“My dream is just to keep moving up, get to the top and be world champion. That’s the ultimate goal: to hold a world title and defend it. That’s the dream. I think I could get some more experience first. After a couple more fights, I’ll be ready to go in there and capture my dreams.”
On the undercard, undefeated Anthony Young (7-0, 3 KOs) of Atlantic City will face St. Clair, Pennsylvania’s Rafael Montalvo (2-3, 2 KOs) in a four-round welterweight clash; Brooklyn, New York’s Dean Burrell (6-1, 5 KOs) will face Durham, North Carolina’s Vernon Alston (5-4, 5 KOs) in a four-round lightweight bout; and in a pair of four-round heavyweight battles, undefeated Charles Martin (6-0-1, 6 KOs) of St. Louis, Missouri, will face David Saulsberry (7-5, 7 KOs) of Greenville, Kentucky, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s Eric Newell (5-2-1, 3 KOs) will take on Virginia Beach, Virginia’s Joe Cusomano (6-1, KOs).