BETHLEHEM, PA - You know a boxer is getting close to the big time when you start seriously thinking about how they might fare in a fight against the very top talent of their division, including the reigning world champions. You never do this in the early stages of a boxer's career, but when they start climbing the ranks, one can't help but wonder what will come in the near future.
Such is the case with both heavyweight Bryant Jennings, 16-0, 8 KOs, and light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, 20-0-1, 18 KOs. Each boxer is world-rated in the top five, and both headline the next edition of Fight Night on the NBC Sports Network, June 14th at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA. The Fight Night telecast will begin at 8PM EDT.
We all know that the Klitschko brothers currently dominate the heavyweight division, but "BY BY" Jennings is an obvious choice when it comes to who may eventually take over once the Ukrainian siblings fade from the scene. Wladimir, 37, and Vitali, 41, are still turning back challenges with relative ease, but their time at the top can't last forever.
Jennings, who blossomed as a legitimate contender in 2012, made five starts during the year that not only put him on the heavyweight map, but also boosted him to the #3 spot in the IBF ratings. With his renowned work ethic, winning attitude, and still-developing fighting skills, Jennings stacks up as one challenger who has a legitimate chance against the brothers.
Although Jennings would love to earn his chance before the Klitschkos retire, he figures to play a major role in determining a new champion, if his opportunity doesn't come that soon. On June 14th, Jennings faces Russian Andrey Fedosov, 24-2, 19 KOs, in his latest chance to impress the powers that be.
Like Jennings, Sergey Kovalev, is quite possibly the future of his division. Just thinking about how "Krusher" Kovalev's vaunted power would play against the top 175-pounders is a boxing fan's dream. His June 14th fight against Cornelius White, 21-1, 16 KOs, is a title eliminator that puts the winner in line to face legend Bernard Hopkins. Even though the 48 year old Hopkins has spent his golden years beating the young studs of the sport, Kovalev's heavy hands have a legitimate chance of seizing the crown from the boxing icon.
Who knows if Kovalev will ever get that chance? However, when a knockout artist like Sergey comes along, boxing fans want to see him vie for the championship, no matter who holds the belt. So whether it is fellow KO-artist Adonis Stevenson, WBO light heavyweight champion Nathan Cleverly, legendary Bernard Hopkins, or anyone else, Kovalev's chance at the big time is around the corner. All he needs to do is to keep winning, and if he's smart, keep sending foes home early.
Both Jennings and Kovalev are on the brink of very big things. Today we talk about them as contenders, but before long we very possibly will be calling them champions.
ABOUT FRIDAY, JUNE 14
The Jennnings-Fedosov, Kovalev-White and Cruz-Narh fights top a seven-bout card at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem. Doors open at 6:15pm ET. Tickets priced at $50 and $75 and $130 (luxury suites) can be purchased through the offices of Peltz Boxing (215-765-0922) and at all Ticketmaster outlets (800-745-3000). Tickets also are on sale at www.peltzboxing.com, www.SandsEventCenter.com, and www.Ticketmaster.com. In Bethlehem, tickets are available at Deja Brew, Inc., 101 West 4th Street (610-865-2739) and at Pronto Insurance Notary, 232 East 3rd Street (610-419-6790). NBC Sports Network will televise the Jennings-Fedosov, Kovalev-White and Cruz-Narh fights, beginning at 8 pm ET, Friday, June 14th. The card is promoted by Main Events and Peltz Boxing Promotions, Inc., in association with Goossen Tutor Promotions, Hitz Entertainment and Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem.