By Ari Gilberg
Six years ago, Bryant Jennings had never fought professionally before. Now the North Philadelphia native, with only 19 professional fights to his name, is set to square off against one of the most dominant and experienced heavyweight fighters in history Sunday night at Madison Square Garden. While Jennings is a relative newcomer to the sport, his opponent, Wladimir Klitschko, is anything but.Embed from Getty Images
Klitschko (66-3, with 53 knockouts, according to Box Rec), who has successfully defended his title 17 consecutive times in a row, is the heavy favorite, and rightfully so. The WBO, IBF, and WBA titleholder had already recorded 52 wins before Jennings (19-0, with 10 knockouts, according to Box Rec) even put on a pair of boxing gloves for the first time. Klitschko’s experience, and utter dominance, most likely played a major role in Jennings’ being listed as much as a 9-1 underdog, according to Odds Checker.
Nearly all sports writers and boxing experts, ranging from ESPN to Heavy to Bleacher Report, have predicted Klitschko will dominate Jennings en route to yet another victory. However, even with the majority of the media counting him out, Jennings’ confidence remains high.
“They can say whatever they want about inexperience, but I know how to win and in a lot of different ways,” Jennings said. “I have the heart and will to be a champion. I understand Klitschko is a beast in himself, but I know for sure I will be ready. This is what I fight for. We are not planning on losing”Embed from Getty Images
With a chance to bring home the remaining three of four major alphabet titles to the United States, Alabama native Deontay Wilder won the WBC heavyweight championship when he defeated Bermane Stiverne in January, Jennings knows how important this fight is not only to him, but to the entire country as well.
“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for,” Jennings said. “Now it’s time to bring the belts home…Nothing against Deontay, but I figure a heavyweight champion from Philly is bigger than a heavyweight champion from Alabama.”
In order for Jennings to have any shot at upsetting Klitschko, and bringing those belts back to his native Philadelphia, he’ll have to rely heavily on his remarkable athletic ability. While Klitschko is 39 years old, ancient by boxing standards, Jennings is still just entering what should be the prime of his career at 30 years old.
Even though Jennings is considerably smaller, he stands at 6’3” and approximately 225 pounds, compared to Klitschko, who’s a strong 6’6” and around 245 pounds, he’s able to use his size to his advantage. Jennings possesses a long 84” reach, which he maximizes with his quickness and jabs to keep opposing fighters at bay, according to Box Rec.Embed from Getty Images
On defense, his elusiveness and speed allow him to dip and dodge most punches. Those that do connect are usually well defended thanks to his oversized arms, which he uses as a large shield to defend his body and face.
Most believe, however, Jennings’ long reach and athleticism will still be no match for Klitschko’s pure, and utterly ferocious, power. Klitschko possesses a powerful right hand, and a dangerous long-rang left hook—which has led to his remarkable 53 knockouts, and “Dr. Steelhammer” nickname.
“I’m the baddest man on the planet,” Klitschko said.
You don’t mess with the baddest man on the planet.
The American patriot, and boxing fan, in me is hoping—praying—for a Jennings upset. The possibility of a Jennings – Wilder unification fight is too tempting not to dream about. But, unfortunately, there’s little to no chance of that happening.
While Jennings does posses an abnormally long reach for his size, Klitschko’s experience, and power, will simply be too much for the young and inexperienced Jennings to overcome. Expect Klitschko to batter Jennings to the point where Jennings’ corner is forced to call the fight.
Klitschko wins by technical knockout in round five.