On Friday night at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, PA, and on NBC Sports Network, undefeated American Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings will once again showcase his boxing skills to the country as he takes on Russian Andrey Fedosav. Jennings will be making his sixth appearance on NBC Sports as he enters the ring for the first time since 2012 where he won with a sensational 5th round knockout over Bowie Tupou.
An American heavyweight as the main event on national television, the thought almost doesn’t seem real these days. In a world of Floyd Mayweather’s, Manny Pacquiao’s, Miguel Cotto’s, and Canelo Alvarez’s, the American population has all but abandoned the heavyweight division of boxing into a bottomless abyss that at this point will never see an escape. The heavyweights have disappeared from the public eye in the United States, yet they do linger in the background somewhere, awaiting for the day that one man can spark the interest of the fans, and get the population to follow him to the heavyweight championship of the world. Yes, this sounds like a story of a young hero trying to save the world, and for boxing in the United States, the heavyweight division needs a huge saving since its death over a decade ago.
Enter one of the few Americans left to try to be the hero, Bryant Jennings. Last year Jennings made his first television appearance on NBC Sports when he defeated Maurice Byarm by UD. He fought five times in 2012, an anonymity in itself, in which three of them ended in knockouts. He was only 11-0 going in to 2012, and managed to win five times in a row bringing him to a record of 16-0 with 8 KO’s. His knockout over Topuo in December could have been KO of the year. He’s on the quick path to try to get a title, and has Main Events putting him on NBC Sports every chance they get.
Here’s the interesting thing about fighting on NBC sports. The NBC shows averages at least one million viewers with some shows getting 1.2 million viewers, and others peaking at 3.2 million, which is even higher than HBO. In fact, more people could watch Jennings fight Friday Night than they did the Canelo vs Trout fight. He has a great personality, he’s appeared on television networks, and he works hard. His advice to kids is not to drink or do drugs, and he practices what he preaches. He tries to set a good example for the kids that look up to him, including his son, and he even worked a full time job last year while training, and managed to fight five times and win every fight. Talk about hard work? He nearly defines the term. Everything about this guy almost seems too perfect. So why hasn’t the buzz around him been as strong as it should be? Why isn’t he being talked about as the next heavyweight champion of the world coming out of America?
It may come down to just one name, Klitchsko. No one in the heavyweight division can beat Wladimir Klitchsko. That is the belief. Klitchsko’s dominance has made everyone all but given up hope that until the day he retires no one in the world has a shot at beating him. If this is the story book that I portrayed in the beginning where a hero needs to bring boxing back to America, then Wladimir Klitchsko is the evil antagonist that all Americans want to see get defeated in the end. The American boxing fans are waiting for an American heavyweight to knock out Wladimir Klitchsko, and Jennings is one fighter that wants to try to dethrone the heavyweight king. It would be his dream, and perhaps the dream of all the fans in the United States that would once again crown an American as the heavyweight champion of the world. However, despite having a shot to face Klitchsko in April where Klitchsko decided to face Pianeta instead, is it too soon for Jennings to try to take the championship fight if he gets the chance?
Bryant Jennings despite having sixteen fights just turned pro in 2010. He only had 17 amateur fights before making the jump. Last year he stayed busy with five fights, and ended the year with a sensational knockout over Bowie Tupou. Jennings isn’t just staying busy by fighting bad opponents either. The combined record of his opponents in 2012 was 110-16. For someone that only had a total of 28 total fights going into 2012, that’s very impressive. This would lead anyone to believe that he may be too green, but he has stepped up to the competition every time he has been asked to. He also didn’t have a huge amateur background to help build his name up as a professional. Jenning’s quality of opposition in 16 fights surpasses that of some guys with over 30.
The Americans want a heavyweight champion sooner than later and rightfully so. The days of Mike Tyson seem like centuries ago. Should Jennings defeat Klitchsko one day, would that mean he would become this Mike Tyson like figure that everyone will absolutely love? That remains to be seen. That might be all it takes, or it might take a few more victories after to become a superstar. One thing seems sure; Jennings is one of the few American heavyweights’ left that Klitchsko may actually give the shot too. All he has to do is keep winning impressively enough so that the fans want to keep watching him fight and one day he’ll have the chance to bring back the heavyweight championship of the world that the American people have longed to see.
The fight starts tomorrow at 9pm Eastern time on NBC Sports Network.