BETHLEHEM, PA — NBC Sports put on another superb boxing card last night at the Sands Casino Resort headlined by heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings taking on a Russian bull of man in Andrey Fedosov. It was billed as a solid test for Jennings, who has been campaigning in vain over the last year to earn a title shot. While he’ll likely fall short of that goal for 2013, his performance last night did a lot to show he should be viewed as one of best American heavyweights.
HANDLING THE PRESSURE: Fedosov did a very good job of closing the gap on Jennings and banging away with hard body shots. Because of a marked disparity in reach, Jennings wisely opted to keep the fight at mid and long rage, where he scored with solid jabs, right crosses and hooks. He was hurt a few times to the body in the second, and got surprised a few times when Fedosov came up top with compact left hooks. The Russian was able to get these opportunities because Jennings simply covered up inside rather than exchanging.
This must have been pointed out by his trainer Fred Jenkins, because Jennings made his most effective adjustment in round three when he countered Fedosov inside with a massive right uppercut-left hook combination. Fedosav immediately careened backwards into the ropes with Jennings right on his heels with an assortment of brutal hooks. To his credit, Fedosov was nowhere near going down despite his head getting the speedbag treatment courtesy of Jennings’s power shots.
“HE’S TRAILOR-MADE FOR YOU!”: Jenkins said this in the corner before round five and implored Jennings to keep turning his foe and working his counter-shots. Jennings, who was visibly breathing harder due to the movement and having to push back constant pressure, probably wasn’t completely buying Jenkins’s assessment. Nonetheless, he was dealt with the pace better by deflecting Fedosov’s hooks upstairs with his gloves, and working the jab to maintain distance.
While Fedosov continued to land the eye-catching body shots, the jabs and right hands of Jennings were the shots that caused the most noticeable physical damage. Fedosov’s left eye had begun to badly swell by the fifth, and Jennings teed off with varied combinations and a few chopping hooks to close the sixth.
It would be those shots that pretty much beat the fight out of Fedosov, who capitulated the contest in the corner by telling Steve Smoger that he could no longer see.
TITLE SHOT TIME?: Considering the Klitschkos have given opportunities to guys like Manuel Charr and Jean Marc Mormeck recently, Bryant Jennings has done more than enough to earn a title shot. However, the champs are tied up for the rest of the year with Wladimir facing Alexander Povetkin, and Vitali taking on Bermane Stiverne. It’s doubtful the other remaining American heavyweights (Deontay Wilder, Malik Scott) would face him, so it’s probably going to be another tough Russian like Kubrat Pulev on Jennings’s plate if he looks to fight again this year.[youtube http://youtu.be/SSUS4WpLj04]
KOVALEV NEXT FOR HOPKINS?: Sergey Kovalev ran through Cornelius White and made it know in his post fight interview that he’d love to “touch” Hopkins in the ring. Hopkins had made it a late-career trait to show how limited most of these hard-punching young sluggers are, but Kovalev also possesses a trait that has historically troubled the Executioner; a high work-rate. When you combine this trait with the power that Kovalev has in both hands, it’s not far-fetched to see this fight resembling B-Hop’s close bouts against Jermain Taylor.
On the other hand, Kovalev has yet to be smacked with a really good counter, get roughed up inside or even face a fighter that didn’t just stand in front of him. White’s trainer Frank Tate claimed they had worked on that, but the only real movement we saw was when White’s body parts were doing their own individual dances after receiving a Kovalev power-punch.
Kovalev will have to do more against a credible opponent to get Hopkins in the ring, but he can make an explosive fight with WBO titlist Nathan Cleverly, who’s also on his radar. I’d favor Kovalev to take that one via KO.[youtube http://youtu.be/ZNokhPAGwOM]
TRUJILLO TKO1 WATKINS: To end on a humorous note, last night’s NBC card also featured the debut of former Golden Gloves champ Arturo Trujillo. The above pic is of his opponent, Philly fighter Anthony Watkins, who’s wearing the look of a shell-shocked fighter. In less than 30 seconds, Watkins literally got the taste (and mouthpiece) smacked out of his mouth repeatedly in route to quick KO loss. Despite all that, the sullen post-fight interview from Trujillo would have you thinking he was the one who had his brains scrambled.[youtube http://youtu.be/d83TR2Bo_4Q]