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 Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Emily Harney Fightography


Bryant Jennings accomplished his mission on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, but the result was uncomfortably close. The now #1 heavyweight in the WBC, won a 12-round unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Mike Perez in a highly anticipated title elimination bout. The victory guaranteed Jennings an opportunity to fight for the WBC crown, probably in the first half of 2015, against the winner of the yet-to-be-scheduled Bermane Stiverne and Detonay Wilder.

The fight was nip-and-tuck, with Perez controlling the first half and Jennings taking charge during the second half. Jennings, often a slow-starter, again cautiously stepped into battle, which allowed Perez to build a lead in the fight. However, Jennings eventually increased his work rate, and pulled the score close, as Perez began to fade in the final rounds. The final result was a near stalemate.

However in the last round, Perez was penalized one point by referee Harvey Dock, and the deduction proved the difference on the official cards.

Two judges had the fight a one-point affair at 114-113 - Glenn Feldman favored Jennings, while Tom Schreck had Perez leading. Joe Pasquale saw Jennings the winner by a more comfortable 115-112. 

However, without that penalty, the fight would have ended in a split decision draw.

This was a fight of two halves. In rounds one through six, Perez was the smoother and busier fighter. He displayed a slickness that along with his lefty style seemed to confuse Jennings a bit. But Jennings' superior conditioning helped him take over during rounds seven through twelve.

However neither fighter had a dominant single round. Twelve times, the margin of victory for the winner of each round was nominal.

That's how close this one was. 

Each of the early rounds was similar, with Jennings waiting too much and punching too little. Jennings would have been foolish to rush in carelessly, but as the early rounds ticked away, it became clear that he was digging a hole that would be difficult to overcome.

However at the midpoint of the fight, the momentum did shift. By round seven, Perez began to tire and Jennings finally loosened up. Bryant connected more easily and even began to hurt Perez with potent shots.

In round eight, Jennings jumped out for the round and stayed busy. Before the round ended, he hurt Perez again with a combination. Mike returned fire, but instead of fighting it out, Perez opted instead to push Jennings down to the canvas and take a little breather.

Jennings continued to outwork Perez in rounds nine and ten, and kept the heavy punches coming.

Perez rebounded in the eleventh, and stole the round with his first busy period since the sixth.

Going into the twelfth, I had Perez up by one round. Jennings needed to win the twelfth to salvage a draw, and a knockdown (or knockout) to win the fight.

However as it turned out, there was another path to victory for Jennings.

The fighters fought closely in round twelve, with Jennings maintaining a slight edge. Around the one-minute mark, Perez bullied Jennings to the ropes where he pressed him back over the top strand. While Jennings covered up, Perez butted his head through Bryant's guard.

Referee Harvey Dock moved in to break the fighters, As the referee separated them, Perez drilled Jennings with a solid straight left hand. Dock pried the boxers apart and escorted Perez around the ring signaling that he was leveling a one-point foul penalty.

As it turned out, that point pushed the official decision Jennings' way. Dock's decision sparked much controversy after the fight. The general feeling was that in such an important and closely contested fight, a penalty point in the final two minutes of action should not have been the deciding factor.

It wasn't a pretty win for Jennings, but it was a win - and a big one. Perez' deeper experience showed in this fight. He may be a further developed boxer, but it wasn't enough to beat Jennings. Keep in mind that Jennings did what he did with far less seasoning than Perez. The Cuban has hundreds of fights (pro and amateur) compared to Bryant's 36 total bouts (19 pro & 17 amateur).

Despite his well-documented limited experience, Jennings, 19-0, 10 KOs, persevered and claimed the win. Perez lost for the first time, 20-1-1, 12 KOs.

The next stop for Jennings is a world title fight. That's exciting, but given the amount of time he'll have to wait, it would be good to see Bryant fight an interim fight. It would keep him sharp, busy, and even perhaps add a new wrinkle to his game. But alas, that is not the boxing business of the day.

Jennings will sit and wait for his shot.

Regardless of boxing logic that says he needs more fights now while there is still time, business logic will win out and keep Bryant safely on the shelf.

So Team Jennings will play it safe and smart - just like they did on Saturday night.


Budding superstar Gennady Golovkin, defended his shares of the middleweight title (WBA & IBO) with a powerful and impressive display against former belt-holder Daniel Geale. Golovkin, 30-0, 27 KOs, cruised through the fight despite often tasting Geale's punches, and imposed his will on the Australian.

Geale could not match the power of the champion and although he landed tons of punches himself, found he was outgunned from the start.

Due to a timing error, the first round lasted for four minutes, 60 seconds longer than regulation. During the odd round, Geale was felled when his foot was tripped up in a photographer's camera strap.

Thirty seconds into round two, Golovkin dropped Geale with an accumulation of punches, the final blow being a glancing right. The Australian regained his feet and fought tough for the remainder of the round. 

However, in round three, Geale couldn't escape GGG. With about thirty seconds remaining in the third, both fighters set to fire right hands. With his back to the ropes, Geale was a beat ahead and landed his right cleanly on Golovkin's face. Gennady took the punch like it was nothing, and kept his own right hand on course for Geale. The Golovkin right landed hard and Geale crashed to the floor.

Geale rolled over and got up, but referee Mike Ortega made the wise decision to stop the fight. The time was 2:47 of round three.

The win kept the Golovkin train moving forward. He's clearly one of the best fighters in the world and is closing in on a signature fight that will make him a true star. Hopefully when it comes, it will again be at Madison Square Garden, his adopted home arena. This was his fourth appearance at the Mecca, but the first in the big room. Golovkin-Cotto for the true middleweight championship would be fun, especially in New York.

Geale slipped to 30-3, 16 KOs, with the defeat. 


In a scheduled 10-round cruiserweight bout, Ola Afolabi battered a game Anthony Caputo Smith for three rounds, cutting him in round two and dropping him twice in round three before the fight was stopped by the ring physician, in Smith's corner immediately following the third round.  

Afolabi hammered Smith, especially with right uppercuts, throughout the fight, cutting him above the left eye and bloodying his nose. Smith fought back and landed his own winging shots, but he was no match for the sharp-shooting Brit. 

In round three a hard uppercut toppled Smith, who barely beat the count. Moments later, an overhand right by Afolabi found its mark and Smith fell again, after a delayed reaction. He regained his feet, but the bell rang before Afolabi could close the show. 

The moment Smith returned to his corner the doctor recommended the fight be stopped, and referee Steve Smoger signaled the end. The official time was 3:00 of round three. 

Olafabi improved to 21-3-4, 10 KOs, while Smith slid to 15-4, 10 KOs. 


Dusty Hernandez Harrison remained undefeated with a one-sided unanimous 8-round decision over southpaw Wilfredo Acuna in a welterweight bout. Harrison used a steady jab and consistent right hand to dominate the action and win every round of the fight. Harrison extended his win streak to 23-0, 12 KOs. Acuna slid below .500 to 14-15, 11 KOs. All three judges, Allen Nace, Kevin Morgan, and Alan Rubenstein turned in scores of 80-72 for Harrison. 


In the opening fight of the night, junior welterweight Julian Rodriguez, 5-0, 3 KOs, scored a first round KO of Yankton Southern, 4-6, 4 KOs, with a blistering left hook to the body. Southern withered to the canvas and took the full ten count from referee Gary Rosato. The time was 43 seconds of round one. 

The card was promoted by K2 Promotions and Gary Shaw Productions. The two main bouts were televised live by HBO.




John DiSanto - New York - July 26, 2014
Photos by Emily Harney Fightography