Jennings was a football star who took up boxing late. He is a gym rat who avoids needing to get in shape for a fight by staying in shape year round. He is a prospect who continues to improve his craft with the unique opportunity of having is progress documented on television. In Tupou, he would be facing his most dangerous foe to date.
Jennings controlled the opening two stanzas by keeping Tupou at a distance behind his jab. In round two, he proved why he is a TV-friendly fighter. Tupou landed his first big shot upstairs, and Jennings let go of a “whoo” and ended the second round with a flurry.
In round three, Tupou landed a looping right hand to the top of Jennings’ head that sent him to the canvas. Although the referee somehow called it a slip, everyone else could see that Jennings was in a precarious situation. Jennings kept his head and was able to hold Tupou until he regained his legs. He survived the round in a fight that was suddenly even.
Jennings began round four by circling to his right which effectively kept him away from Tupou’s right hand. Jennings then closed the round by throwing and landing with a flurry of head shots.
Jennings proved he was all the way back when he began to rip shots to Tupou’s body. When Tupou put up the ear-muffs, Jennings took advantage of the opening and landed a perfect uppercut to Tupou’s chin. The punch knocked Tupou down and out, and Jennings was suddenly reciting a poem in a post-fight interview.
The Official Time 1:37 of Round 5 was read, and Philly fans cheered loudly in support of their hometown heavyweight prospect.
While a sanctioning body has Jennings ranked as high as fifth, he remains a work in progress. Fortunately he has a Hall of Fame promoter and match-maker who will gradually step up his competition in 2013.
The evening’s co-feature saw featherweight Eric “The Outlaw” Hunter (17-2, 9 KO) revive his career in front of his hometown fans by upsetting previously undefeated Jerry Belmontes (17-1, 5 KO) by unanimous decision.
Hunter took the fight on short notice when original opponent, Teon Kennedy, was forced to withdrawal due to injury. A televised bout in his hometown was exactly what Hunter needed to rejuvenate a once promising career that had grown stagnant after he lost via disqualification in December of 2010.
The former 2004 Olympic-alternate quickly let Belmontes know that he was not in the ring to play the role of opponent. Hunter threw and landed at a high percentage in the first round, and then landed a perfect counter left that dropped Belmontes in the second.
The Texas native dusted himself off and became an effective aggressor in round three. However, he was unable to maintain momentum as Hunter returned to counter-punching. Hunter remained in the pocket and was able to counter a lunging Belmontes. Hunter landed a few shots below the beltline to add to Belmontes growing frustration.
When Hunter chose to throw first he was effective by landing lead left hooks and straight rights. Belmontes was no longer landing his own straight right, and seemed unsure how to attack an opponent who was often standing in front of him with his hands at his sides.
By the eighth round Belmontes’ corner informed their charge that they needed a knockout, but it was Hunter who closed the show strong. The final bell rang and compubox illustrated that Hunter threw (535-424) and landed (208-150) more punches at a higher percentage (39-35).
The judges made it official when their scores of: 99-91, 97-92, 99-90 were read in favor of Hunter.
PribNotes: While this edition of FightNight was overshadowed by the Pacquiao-Marquez fight in Vegas, it was a big winner on twitter.com. As writers were getting restless during the two sleep inducing fights on the Top Rank undercard, tweets were coming from Philly alerting folks about the action they were missing. This is nothing new to people whom ever purchased tickets to a Main Events or Peltz Boxing show. These are two promoters who are conscious of making a full evening of entertaining fights for the fans who spend their money on tickets.
Three weeks ago we saw another American heavyweight suffer a shocking knockout loss. The difference between Jennings and Seth Mitchell was that Jennings was able to hold on, rather than trying to blindly throw back to even the score. I wonder if Mitchell’s loss benefited Jennings.
Eric Hunter’s victory will no doubt keep him on the short list for upcoming “Fight Night” shows. How about an all-Philly showdown with Kennedy?
Steve “USS” Cunningham did a nice job filling in on the broadcast for Freddie Roach. Cunningham and Tomas Adamek were in attendance in order to promote their 12/22 rematch that will air live on NBC that Saturday afternoon.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and he could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @PribsBoxing