By Jake Donovan
Steve Collins is a long way from home – both figuratively and literally – for Saturday night’s clash with unbeaten heavyweight Bryant Jennings, which airs live on NBC Sports Network from the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
The fight marks a huge step up in class for Collins (25-1-1, 18KO), who has never fought in regions beyond his Midwestern roots or current hometown of Houston; nor has he ever fought past the sixth round or been scheduled for a fight deeper than eight.
“Collins is 25-1-1; on Saturday night we find out if his record is for real,” quipped promoter Kathy Duva of the co-feature attraction. “Bryant Jennings was in his same position when he first appeared on the series. He was unbeaten but nobody knew he was for real. Bryant stepped up on the first show and because he had the nerve to do it he has now become a star.”
A win over Jennings would certainly launch Collins’ career to new heights, though for the moment appears to be a daunting task. The 28-year old heavyweight knew what to expect when he agreed to the fight. He knows he’ll stick out like a sore thumb on the East Coast and that few if any give him the slightest chance of emerging victorious.
But that’s why they call it a risk.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and a big step up,” Collins acknowledges of his first scheduled 10-round fight. “Everything is in place for big things to happen. If I beat Bryant Jennings, then anything is possible for my career.”
The latter is not to be mistaken as doubt, but a reference to how Jennings soared from obscurity to red-hot prospect in just two fights. Collins took note his opponent’s out-of-nowhere rise to fame. It’s part of why he accepted the dangerous assignment, though also fully confident that he’s ready for what amounts to a massive leap in competition.
“I’m a big, strong country boy with a hard work ethic. This training camp is the hardest I’ve ever trained. My opponent made his name with two TV wins. Hopefully I’ll make my name by beating him on Saturday.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to [email protected]