But what’s the rush?
“There is no rush,” he insists, “but it’s just a simple fact that I’m here. There’s no need for me to wait if I’m here. What am I waiting for? The question is: What’s the wait? For the simple fact I’m mentally strong, my mentality is definitely above average and the only thing I’m missing is experience. When you see me fighting and you see those other guys fight, to be honest, you don’t see much difference other than them having more fights than me. These guys are not physically in shape or they’re not better than me and their technique definitely don’t show that they’ve been in the game a long time.
“So you just gotta give credit to me for being so good or at this level so fast. So the big question is: What’s the wait?”
Jennings has the requisite size and athleticism needed to compete in the heavyweight class. Let’s face it; below the two-headed Klitschko monster, there is a huge void in this division. But Jennings still needs a lot of seasoning; doesn’t he? And is a guy who just fought Bowie Tupou (who floored Jennings before suffering a fifth-round stoppage) really ready for such a daunting task?
For as promising as he might be, the résumé is flimsy. What makes his case stronger than those other contenders/pretenders for a title shot?
Jennings responds, “Well, I would just tell them guys to do a better job and if someone can come up who’s only been a professional fighter, let’s say, three years and if he can get in the running and if he has the audacity to talk and speak and some people will vouch for him, then those guys are doing a very bad job at being big-time contenders because I’m considered a kid and I’m in the running with those guys. So they’re doing a very bad job.”
He is certainly audacious. In a way, it’s refreshing, quite frankly. Many managers and promoters are secretly hoping to wait out the Klitschkos and then fight for vacant titles. Jennings is willing to try and slay the dragon himself.
The question remains, is he ready for such a task? Even his own handlers aren’t so sure. His promoter, J. Russell Peltz, a boxing veteran who believes too many boxers nowadays are hurried to the upper echelons of the sport, states, “It’s not that I agree or disagree. Boxing is a business to Bryant more than it is a sport. He sees it as a way to make money and he’s got a lot of confidence in himself and he thinks he can be on the fast track. I’d like to see him get more experience but he’s in a hurry.”
Peltz adds, “I think he’s capable of beating anyone ranked below the Klitschkos. I think he fights like he’s a heavyweight but he also fights like a middleweight. He’s got an athlete’s body; he’s got speed. When I watched Bermane Stiverne and Chris Arreola, it was like watching Max Baer and Lou Nova, two guys standing there with no movement, just hitting each other and that’s not going to be the situation with Bryant. He’s going to be in-and-out, side-to-side; he’s got speed. He may not have the power that those guys have but a lot of speed equals power.”
Boxing is a brutal business and there’s a reason it’s called “prizefighting.” Like any other participant, Jennings has the right to make decisions he feels are most beneficial to him and his family. A fight with either Klitschko would be lucrative. Currently, Jennings’ full-time job is working as a building mechanic for the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
Perhaps he just wants to be able to retire his hammer and wrench.
“I’m just determined because I know what I can get out of this boxing world and it’s just the next level of life and the next level of business. I have a family to take care of and I’m just seeking greatness and financial security. But it’s something to where I can just let that go but I’ll be more comfortable with just regularly living life,” he says. “I mean, whatever life brings, I’m waiting for it and I’m expecting the best things out of life. It will be a great thing and just put my job away and go at this boxing 100 percent.”
Jennings, a graduate of Ben Franklin High, got into boxing to better his life’s standing. He recounted, “That was like a last resort. I was trying to find ways to be successful to the next level because my grandfather was a mechanic before and being good with your hands was in the family and minor entrepreneurship, real estate, but I see my life to be much greater than that. And I just felt as though there was a level after that and I just seeked it and I felt as though boxing could take me there because boxing will leave you financially successful if everything goes correctly.
“So that’s what I was chasing and I had a child and I just said, ‘There’s got to be more to this life.’”
You wonder, what if Jennings - who comes from a city known for three things: cheesesteaks, booing and boxing - had a more traditional start in boxing as a youngster? He recalls going to the gym for a few days as a 12-year-old but getting summarily ignored, derailing any hopes of a boxing career at that stage. Throughout high school, he participated in track, football and basketball.
But what if he started boxing during the years he hit puberty and had a long amateur run?
“I very well believe I would’ve been a world champion now or would have been in contention plenty times,” he states without hesitation, “because I’ve actually been this size when I was around 14, 15 years old and I always had ambition with any other sport I played in. The only thing I really lacked was the connects and the next-level attention. Because we all know, if you play football, you definitely have to play for a D-1 [Division I] college or you have to work hard. You have to know certain agents, go to combines and all that. So that was very hard to do. I was definitely in NFL-shape but I really couldn’t get around the politics and the steps you had to take to really get into the NFL.
“But if I would’ve started boxing way back then with the same ambition that I have today, same size I have today and I would take the same steps I do today, I just would’ve been a more complete person by now. I probably would’ve been on my way out by now.”
A large reason a relative boxing neophyte like Jennings can gain prominence so quickly is the dearth of quality big men in America. But what’s taking place in boxing, according to Jennings, isn’t just indicative of this sport but more of a cultural shortcoming that now exists.
“The whole world is lacking now,” he says. “The heavyweight division in boxing is not the only thing that is shallow. The world is very shallow now because we have a lot of distractions and people idolize celebrities and they lack religion. They lack their own beliefs. They lack their own morals and the world’s actually controlled by money. And the more and more we get deeper into it, the generations to come, it just gets more corrupt and it’s bigger than boxing.
“So I don’t know where those athletes are, these athletes...I wouldn’t even say guys are in the NBA - because the NBA is not like it used to be. The NFL is not like it used to be. I have no idea where these individuals are. A lot of them may be in prison. A lot of them may be dead in their minds to where they don’t have the drive and they don’t have that belief in themselves that they can be something great. A lot of them try to become rappers. You got a lot of guys that just sit on their behind. I don’t know where these people are.”
But Jennings is a man who firmly believes he’s destined for great things - and the sooner the better. If he wins tonight, he wants a title opportunity next.
“Well, I’ll be pressing hard in my life but I don’t know how hard it can be pressed as far as the political side of boxing,” he says, “but I’ll definitely make sure that I’ll still be training at a world championship-level. I’ll be at a great level and I’ll just maintain my focus, maintain my mentality and whenever that time comes, I’ll be ready for sure.”
It looks as though Andre Ward is looking to flee from his promotional firm, Goossen Tutor, which has handled his career since he came out of the 2004 Olympics as the last U.S. gold medalist (at least among male boxers). They recently went through an arbitration hearing with the California commission, I’m told.
Who knows where this ends up? But I find this to be a bit curious all the way around. Again, not knowing all the sordid details and grievances, it has to be said that under the stewardship of Dan Goossen, Ward was able to get a consistent home-canvas advantage in Showtime’s “Super Six” tournament, which greatly enhanced his career and was eventually parlayed into a lucrative commitment from HBO (which also includes an announcing job).
All this with a fighter who isn’t exactly fan-friendly and beyond that, not very durable. Since winning the “Super Six,” his career ascension has slowed because he’s only fought once in 18 months because of various ailments. Again, can you promote someone not able to perform consistently?
Is Goossen’s main fault that he isn’t Benny Hinn?
There is speculation that Bob Arum and Top Rank are ready to pounce all over Ward, which makes sense given Ward’s manager, James Prince, has a cordial relationship with Arum. If Arum had both sides of a potential match-up between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Ward, it would grease the skids for that fight to become a reality.
As for Ward, who knows when he fights again? The question now is, just who will be promoting it?
There’s no doubt that last weekend, Showtime had the far superior card compared to HBO but that didn’t necessarily reflect in the Nielsen ratings. The Showtime telecast, featuring two very good bouts in Erislandy Lara-Alfredo Angulo and Marcos Maidana-Josesito Lopez peaked at 594,000 viewers and averaged 387,428.
Meanwhile, the HBO card featuring Adonis Stevenson’s eye-opening KO of Chad Dawson and the bore-fest between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Darley Perez peaked at 1.02 million viewers and averaged 904,000.
Brandon Rios, who faces Manny Pacquiao in late November, will be hosting some meet-and-greets with the fans in Dallas this Friday. Here’s his schedule:
6/14/13 from 3 p.m. - 3:45 p.m.
611 W. Jefferson Blvd.
6/14/13 from 4:15 p.m. - 5 p.m.
532 W. Jefferson Blvd.
6/14/13 from 5:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m.
Rio Grande Supermercado
2515 W. Jefferson Blvd. Suite 300
Here’s the latest edition of “The Next Round”: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thenextround/2013/06/11/the-next-round-episode-436...Also on this NBCSN card is Sergey Kovalev vs. Cornelius White and Ronald Cruz vs. Ray Narh...Tomasz Adamek will face Tony Grano on August 3rd on NBCSN...The weigh-in for the Mikey Garcia-Juan Manuel Lopez fight is open to the public at: 1:15 P.M., CT at the American Airlines Center - West Concourse...So when is Game of Thrones returning to HBO? I don’t know if I can wait that long.....No more 3-D on ESPN? Say it ain’t so!...I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.