PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – Bryant Jennings’ head is clear. The budding heavyweight made sure all the superfluous stuff was wiped aside before he began 2013. The Philly-based prospect got a new manager and a renewed focus.
Jennings’ comfort zone will be put to the test on Friday, when he takes on Andrey Fedosov in an NBC Sports Network Fight Night mean event at the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Jennings (16-0, 8 knockouts) hasn’t fought since he disposed of Bowie Tupou in five rounds on Dec. 8, 2012. He was supposed to fight on March 9, but that date never happened. The date cancelation forced Jennings to view things differently and take care of his out-of-the-ring business in order to regain a comfort zone in the ring.
Jennings had grown tired of the stagnant path he seemed to be on. He was offered the same amount of money for the March 9th date as he received for his January 2012 fight with Maurice Byarm. Jennings decided that 2013 would a time to upgrade his career – his finances, the venues he fights in and his opponents.
“The main thing I’ve learned in the last six months is a lot more about the business of boxing,” said Jennings, who had to make a difficult decision and part ways with Fred Jenkins as his manager, though he’s retained the boxing veteran as his trainer.
“I think the business side of boxing prevented me from thinking straight and that’s why I’ve made some adjustments to my team. I’m able to think better. I got a new manager, James Prince, because I needed to be managed at the next level. I think Prince is someone who can help me reach that next level.
“I’ve known Fred Jenkins since I was little. He raised me from day one in the gym. He’s the only person I was trained by and the only person I will ever be trained by. But at first, Fred got the news I took on a new manager, he didn’t take it well. Deep down, through time, he came around to take it better.
“I needed someone separate managing my career. That’s all. Fred is definitely an example of mine that I looked up to in a lot of different ways. I just don’t want to be fighting forever. I want to leave healthy – and wealthy, not broke. I know the stories of guys leaving this game broke and unhealthy.”
Jennings, 28, and his team admit they don’t know much about Fedosov (24-2, 19 KOs), other than he’s 6-foot-1, has a decent punch and hasn’t fought anyone of Jennings’ caliber yet.
Jennings himself would like to do a few things better. Against Tupou, he says, he came out a little too tentative. The 6-foot-3 Jennings got caught with a left in the third round and was knocked down, but referee Blair Talmadge graciously called it a slip. It enabled Jennings to regroup and catch Tupou later in the fifth.
“It was a knockdown,” Jennings admits, “but I was satisfied with my win against Bowe. I like to fight bigger fighters. I had to wait until he calmed down. He was too hyped. The first couple of rounds I couldn’t get myself together. I want to start better against Fedosov. I don’t know anything about him; he’s going to have to know about me.”
Jenkins, however, warned Jennings isn’t taking this fight for granted. They’ve seen what happened to fellow Philadelphia heavyweights, Malik Scott, who received a disputed draw against Vyacheslav Glazkov, and Steve Cunningham, who many thought was robbed against Tomasz Adamek in the very venue last December.
“Bryant is going to be more eager to show himself than he’s been in the past; he wants to show he should be considered a top-10 heavyweight,” Jenkins emphasized. “It’s a strange thing with some of the alphabet organizations that aren’t ranking him the way he should be ranked. Bryant is still learning and we won’t see his best until we put him in there against the best. All I want to see is for Bryant to take one round at a time. Bryant will adjust as he goes in from whatever the other guy brings. We know this guy is tough and he has a good punch.”
Jennings knows a victory – an impressive victory – over Fedosov stirs talk of an attractive matchup with popular British contender Tyson Fury. Jennings also knows there’s been talk of his facing fellow undefeated American prospect, Deontay Wilder. Jennings prefers the brash and bombastic Fury, who is more tested than Wilder and is also better-known to international audiences.
“I want Tyson Fury – because he’s getting worldwide recognition and someone everyone considers ahead of me,” Jennings said. “I know a lot of people are pumping up me and Wilder. But I have no interest in Wilder. I want Fury and by the end of the year, I would like to see myself in the Klitschko picture.
“You (also) have Seth Mitchell and Johnathon Banks. I would be interested in the winner of that fight. It doesn’t matter. The only way any of these guys are going to beat me is to knock me out. That won’t happen, because they won’t out work me.”
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