NEW YORK CITY — Wladimir Klitschko’s championship dominance continued last night at Madison Square Garden, but there is now hope for the future of American heavyweights. Bryant Jennings proved to be elusive and troubled Klitschko with his speed and footwork despite losing a clear decision (116-111 twice, 118-109).
RIGHT HAND NEUTRALIZED: Jennings had Klitschko’s massive right hand well scouted. He moved away from it and used his longer reach to keep Klitschko off-balance and out of rhythm. Jennings was quick enough to leap in without getting timed and getting into Klitschko’s chest. The challenger also had the benefit of a referee in Michael Griffin chastising Klitschko as early as the second for holding inside.
When Klitshko did start landing the right in the championship rounds, Jennings proved to have a capable chin and was never badly hurt.
GOOD DEFENSE, NOT ENOUGH OFFENSE: Jennings was excellent in avoiding two of Klitschko’s best weapons (left hook, straight right), but the Ukrainian’s jab was the most consistent punch of the night. It forced Jennings to have to rush in just to get within punching range and usually into the waiting (clinching) arms of Klitschko. Jennings made sure to work in clubbing body shots whenever he had a free hand, but it’s nearly impossible to win a fight with those being your best offensive weapon.
THE CHAMP ADJUSTS AND CLOSES OUT: Klitschko has been used to fighting stationary guys and seemed frustrated that Jennings wasn’t a sitting duck for his 1-2s. Not helping matters was when Klitschko got docked a point in the 10th for continued holding. Klitschko started to box on his toes, making Jennings have to come after a moving target. This took away Jennings’ ability to get inside and also allowed Klitschko to get in some solid right hands to emphatically take the final two rounds.
FUTURE BUSINESS: As Klitschko stated in his post-fight interview, he’ll be moving onto the various mandatories for his titles. One of those is a big UK fight with #1 WBO contender Tyson Fury. Bryant Jennings’ next opponent is a little murkier. He’s without question a Top 5 heavyweight, but he’s not ranked at all by the WBC, ruling out a potential showdown with titlist Deontay Wilder. Potential names could be Charles Martin, Andy Ruiz or Francesco Pianeta.
SADAM ALI UD10 FRANCISCO SANTANA: Despite dealing with an opponent that came into the ring as nearly a super-middleweight (167 pounds), Sadam Ali’s movement and combination punching was sufficient to win him a wide unanimous decision (100-90, 97-93 twice). Ali’s only problems came when he lingered too long against the ropes, allowing Santana to catch him to solid body shots and left hooks upstairs. But more often than not, Ali was too fast to take any consistent damage.