By Jake Donovan
Bryant Jennings survived a major scare when Andrey Fedosov was unable to continue following six rounds of thrilling action in their heavyweight main event Friday evening in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
The bout was far more competitive than most expected to be the case - including Jennings himself, who never seemed thrilled about the opponent or the length of time between his fights. The unbeaten Philly native enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2012, but was on the sidelines for an assortment of reasons for all of 2013 prior to this bout.
Jennings' original opponent of choice was streaking heavyweight Franklin Lawrence, but a deal was never reached. In came Fedosov, a Russian export now based out of Hollywood, California.
Whether he wanted the fight or not, Jennings was forced to adapt in a hurry.
"It was a difficult fight because he was short and compact," Jennings would admit afterwards. The crowd favorite only boasted a one-inch height advantage over his 6'1" opponent, but struggled to get into a rhythm.
Fedosov plowed forward early on, nullifying Jennings' effectiveness with constant pressure. The American turned things around in round three, connecting with a combination that left Fedosov loopy.
While Jennings proved in 2012 to be a talent on the rise, his finishing skills need improvement. Rather than target on Fedosov's fleshy midsection, he instead went headhunting, nearly punching himself out in the process.
Avoiding the knockout, Fedosov enjoyed a bounceback fourth round while Jennings attempted to refill his gas tank. The Russian threatened to take over the fight, but was also forced to contend with a rapidly swelling left eye, the product of repeated right hand shots landed by Jennings.
A fun heavyweight slugfest came to an abrupt ending after six rounds, when Fedosov simply told referee Steve Smoger, "I can't see." The veteran referee is known as a fighter's referee, a solid reputation for letting fights play out its natural course and giving fighters every chance to punch their way out of trouble.
However, the third man was forced to act once a fighter informed of compromised vision, waving off the contest immediately thereafter.
The official time was 3:00 of round six.
Jennings advances to 17-0 (9KO), while continuing his dream of landing a shot at either of the Klitschko brothers.
Fedosov suffers his first stoppage loss and third defeat overall, slipping to 24-3 (19KO).
Sergey Kovalev doesn't need any extra motivation to go for a knockout every time out. This time around, the unbeaten light heavyweight was given a bonus as his 3rd round knockout of Cornelius White now moves him into the mandatory contender position for Bernard Hopkins' title.
Three knockdowns prompted referee Gary Rosato to stop the contest at 1:42 of round three.
Kovalev came out to his usual strong start, and White simply never adjusted. The Houston native dared to go punch for punch with the unbeaten Russian, which naturally proved to be his undoing.
After two rounds of landing a steady stream of power punches, Kovalev busted loose in the third. A heavy left jab produced the first of three knockdowns in the round, to White to his credit continued to climb off the deck. A flurry of punches both upstairs and to the body sent White to the canvas hard, to which he arose on wobbly legs.
The final sequence saw Kovalev score with a right hand upstairs to drive White to the ropes. A hailstorm of power punches resulted in the third knockdown, this time prompting referee Gary Rosato to intervene and wave off the contest.
Kovalev continues to storm up the light heavyweight division. The Russian export - now based out of Ft. Lauderdale and trained by former middleweight titlist John David Jackson - improves to 21-0-1 (18KO). He is now the mandatory challenger to Hopkins' title, though still has to wait out Karo Murat's status.
While his July 13 bout with Hopkins was canceled, the IBF still has to determine whether or not Murat is able to clear up his visa issue in time to move along the title process. If not, Kovalev will move into the #1 position.
White falls to 21-2 (16KO), snapping a five-fight win streak.
In the opening bout of the telecast, Ray Narh pulled off a major upset with a surprisingly dominant points win over house favorite Ronald Cruz.
Scores were 100-90, 98-92 and 96-94.
Narh, coming off of a two-year layoff and moving up in weight, wasn't the least bit fazed by the partisan crowd on hand or anything that Cruz had to offer. The veteran spoiler fought from the outside for much of the fight, never allowing the struggling prospect to get untracked.
A right uppercut snapped back the head of Cruz in the sixth, at which point he was already massively behind on the scorecards and needed to land a fight-altering punch. That moment appeared to have come in round nine, when Narh literally walked into an overhand right. However, Cruz squandered his own momentum by landing an errant low blow.
Narh was already fully recovered by that point and cruised to the finish line for his first win since March '11. He improves to 26-2 (21KO) with the upset.
Cruz suffers his second straight loss as he falls to 17-2 (12KO).
With plenty of time to kill between the co-feature and main event, a pair of debutants managed to sneak into telecast. Arturo Trujillo treated the session like a double-parked driver, tearing through Anthony Watson in just 29 seconds of ring action.
Two knockdowns for the Puerto Rican southpaw barely 15 seconds apart from each other produced the quick ending.
Trujillo moves to 1-0 (1KO). The former amateur standout hails from Easton, Penn., the same hometown as legendary former heavyweight king Larry Holmes.
Watson heads back to Philly with his pro record now 0-1.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: