PHILLY BOXING HISTORY                                                                         March 24, 2012


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North Philly's undefeated Bryant Jennings brushed off any suggestion that he was in over his head against former heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich Saturday night at the Aviator Sports Complex in Brooklyn, by taking the fight directly to his bigger, more experienced, and heavily favored opponent and pounding out a surprising ninth round TKO. Jennings used a stiff jab, simple-but-constant foot movement, a steady body attack, and an assortment of power punches to completely control the action. His near-perfect performance delivered a huge boost to his budding boxing career. If Jennings turned heads with a win over Maurice Byarm in January, this time out he sent the message that he had indeed arrived. Even for those who believed Jennings would win the fight, no one could have anticipated how thorough and easy that victory would be.

Jennings jumped out to a fast start in round one and never looked back. He opened up in the second, landing well and nicking Sergei's left eye. In the third, it was more of the same, with Jennings landing steadily and gaining in confidence, while Liakhovich looked sluggish and increasingly worse for wear. 

With three rounds already to his credit, Jennings applied serious pressure in the fourth, and the surge began to sap the strength from Liakhovich. It was all downhill from there.

For the second time in as many fights, the 27 year old Jennings, not only seized an important career opportunity, he taught a master class on the topic. As Jennings banked rounds and built his victory one round at a time, he never stopped moving, working or believing. He invested for the later rounds by working the body of the 35 year old, and never allowed his crafty foe into the fight. After a while, Jennings convinced Liakhovich, and everyone else, that the former champ had no business being in the ring with him.

In round five, Jennings wobbled a bloody Liakhovich with a strong right uppercut and later hurt him with a left hook. Already, the writing was on the wall for the knockout. Jennings was utterly dominant as the fight entered the second half, with each of Bryant's punches inching him closer and closer to the upset. 

Liakhovich had nothing to offer as the fight wore on and was warned by trainer Eddie Mustafa Muhammad before the ninth that the fight would be stopped if he didn't show him something. Liakhovich had nothing to show.

The ninth round started slowly, and it appeared that Liakhovich might catch a break as Jennings caught his breath. But before long Jennings was again teeing off on Liakhovich, and coming very close to pushing him over the edge. Bryant administered a steady beating for most of the round, but the tough former champion hung in there and made it to the bell.

However, the moment Liakhovich returned to his corner, his trainer requested that the fight be stopped. Everyone was in agreement, including Liakhovich, so the fight went in the books as a TKO at 3:00 of round nine. The loss was Liakhovich's second in a row, leaving him 25-5 (16 KO), and placing serious doubts on the future of his career. Somewhere, Eddie Chambers was shaking his head. 

For Jennings, 13-0, 6 KOs, the impressive win opened the door to a very interesting future. In his past two fights, the 27 year old has shown the world his solid ability, excellent conditioning, and the attitude and outlook of a real winner. Ranked #15 before the fight, Jennings should move up with the performance. But it may just have been his first step toward the top.

"Honestly, I didn't even fight the fight that I wanted," Jennings said in the ring after the fight. "I was too cautious. I could have done more, but you know, I got it out of the way. I want to go to the top. That's the goal. I want to be the best. I'm well on my way. Another one down."

With his two terrific showings on the nationally televised NBC Sports Network "Fight Night" boxing series, an audience far bigger than Philly is now looking forward to his next step in the heavyweight division. Jennings has arrived, and is ready for more. This is getting interesting.




John DiSanto - News & Notes - March 24, 2012