By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Artur Szpilka playfully squeezed Bryant Jennings’ bulging biceps Friday as a flexing Jennings weighed in for their 10-round heavyweight fight Saturday night.
Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) doesn’t think Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) will have anything to laugh about after they square off in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. Szpilka predicted he’ll knock out Jennings, a projection Jennings called “childish.”
“People coming up and saying they’re going to knock me out,” Jennings said, “it’s just like, ‘OK. Whatever you say. Yeah, OK.’ We all know fighters say, ‘I’m going to knock you out. I’m going to do this.’ Talk is cheap. It’s definitely not necessary. Talk is cheap.”
The 29-year-old Jennings intends to let his huge hands do the talking in his HBO debut against Poland’s Szpilka, 24. He does not, however, have a high opinion of Szpilka, who stopped Chicago-area attraction Mike Mollo (20-5-1, 12 KOs) in the fifth round of his last fight Aug. 16 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Mollo dropped Szpilka in the third round before Szpilka came back to drop and stop him two rounds later.
“I don’t really think too much of him,” Jennings said of Szpilka. “I didn’t really see anything special in him. I see a lot of guys like him. You don’t see too many guys that are like me. He’s common. I’m not common.”
Philadelphia’s Jennings has demonstrated potential the past couple years, but he hasn’t fought since June 14 largely due to changing promoters, from Russell Peltz to Gary Shaw. He doesn’t think the longest layoff of his four-year pro career will adversely affect him against Szpilka, though, nor is Jennings concerned about Szpilka being a southpaw.
“They’re going to have to adjust to me,” Jennings said. “That’s the whole thing. I don’t adjust to people, they adjust to me. They fight my fight. This is my ring. I’m in there. They’ve got to fight my fight.”
Jennings expects Szpilka to have difficulty dealing with his boxing ability, speed and athleticism, among other things.
“My reach, my conditioning, my mobility and my strength is definitely an unknown advantage,” Jennings said. “I don’t think he recognizes it, but that’s one of my advantages. I have a lot of advantages over him. I’m a huge step up for him. But it’s a heavyweight fight, and it only takes one punch to knock you out.”
The Jennings-Szpilka clash will be the first of two bouts HBO will televise as part of a “Boxing After Dark” doubleheader (9:45 p.m. ET/PT). Mikey Garcia (33-0, 28 KOs), of Oxnard, Calif., is set to defend his WBO super featherweight title in the main event against Mexico’s Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-2, 20 KOs).
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.Tags: Artur Szpilka , Bryant Jennings , Jennings-Szpilka , Jennings vs. Szpilka