BRYANT JENNINGS: AMERICA’S HEAVYWEIGHT TO WATCH

By By Francis Walker BASN Boxing writer
Updated: September 10, 2012

Is he a mirage of a real contender?

Is he a mirage of a real contender?

NEW YORK, NY (BASN)–When Bryant Jennings was surprisingly allowed to fight on NBC’s Fight Night series earlier this year, it came as a total shock and surprie to everyone. Bryant Jennings was a virtual unknown.

The same cannot be said today, as Bryant Jennings has emerged as the American heavyweight prospect to watch. In 2012, Jennings went from an unknown to a TV commodity.

Jennings’s last four fights have been televised which can only boost his confidence, as well as restore Americans as a serious threat in the heavyweight division.

Jennings appeared on the Tomasz Adamek vs. Travis Walker undercard, to complement the successful heavyweight debut of former two-time IBF cruiserweight champion, Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham last Saturday, September 8, at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.

The unbeaten Jennings (15-0, 7 KOs) destroyed Youngstown, OH native Chris Koval (25-10, 18 KOs) at 35 seconds of the first round. A left-hook produced a hard knockdown followed by a barrage of punches to end the fight.

When asked what’s next Jennings simply remarked: “progression. I’m still getting better. I just keep working. Practice makes perfect.”

Jennings could be the boost the heavyweight division needs. Especially since there are really no American heavyweight stars on the horizon. Yes, Seth Mitchell and 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deyontay Wilder are both undefeated and have punching power, but the heavyweight ranks consist of the Klitschkos, Alexander Povetkin, David Haye, Tomasz Adamek, Robert Helenius, and Tyson Fury – all European fighters.

America really has no heavyweights to be excited about. Our heavyweight heroes Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Ken Norton, Evander Holyfield, and Mike Tyson have either died or are long retired.

Even fight-fans who hated Britain’s Lennox Lewis’ caution-first, explosive-later style didn’t fully appreciate him until after he retired. When Lennox Lewis elected to retire on top as world heavyweight champion was the last time American fight-fans were excited about heavyweights.

Jennings isn’t an Ali, Foreman, Holmes, Tyson, Lewis, or Holyfield. He will never be because, the competition today lack the fundamentals and fight skills as the fighters of yesteryear. However, Jennings can still have an impact in the division.

Jennings has already made an impact in each of his nationally televised fights this year. Perhaps Jennings’ biggest victory was his TKO of former WBO heavyweight champion, Sergui Liakhovich.

Not bad for a heavyweight with only 15 professional bouts.

Adamek TKOs Walker in 5

Former WBC light-heavyweight and IBF cruiserweight champion, Tomasz Adamek resumed his path toward earning a second world heavyweight title fight. Adamek (47-2, 29 KOs) surprisingly KO’d Travis Walker (39-10-1, 31 KOs) in the fifth round of what was a memorable slugfest in the main event.

“People like this kind of fight,” Adamek said. “The last time I had 12 round fight, people say it was boring. I’m a warrior. I’m not a chicken. Speed is power. When I hit, people go [down] clean.”

That wasn’t the case in round two when Adamek was badly wobbled after surviving a solid knockdown off a Walker right.

Walker went for the finish, but Adamek survived to drop Walker in the same round. Adamek refused to relinquish control, as he cut Walker in round four before knocking him down again in round five. Referee Eddie Cotton stopped the fight at the 1:08 second mark.

Cunningham wins decision in heavyweight debut

Steve ‘USS’ Cunningham (25-4, 12 KOs) emerged victorious following a workman-like 10-round decision victory against Jason Gavern (21-11-4, 10 KOs). 100-90 (twice) and 99-91 is how the judges scored the contest.

Cunningham, a former two-time IBF cruiserweight champion, said he felt very comfortable fighting at 207 and was impressed with his ability to hurt a bigger 239-pound fighter in Gavern.

“I felt good,” Cunningham said. “Mentally, I told myself that I wasn’t starting in the heavyweight division. In sparring, we fought three-four different guys for 3-4-5 rounds. After every few rounds, there would be a new fresh guy coming in. You work hard in training so that the fight is easier.”

Cunningham said he’d like to eventually rematch Adamek. The two fought nearly four years ago at the Prudential Center. Adamek lifted the IBF cruiserweight title away from Cunningham who went down twice. It was a wild and exciting contest worthy of a rematch, but the timing and lack of commitment from TV outlets dampened those plans.

In other bouts: undefeated junior lightweight Jerry Belmontes (17-0, 5 KOs) won a unanimous decision against Joselito Collado (13-2, 3 KOs). The judges scored the bout 78-74 (twice) and 77-75.

Junior welterweight Jose Peralta (10-1, 6 KOs) stopped Christian Steele (3-5, 1 KO) in the third round. Steele tasted the canvas in rounds two and three.

Unbeaten lightweight Karl Dargan (11-0, 6 KO’s) stopped Jesse Carradine (8-2-1, 4 KO’s) easily.