By Jake Donovan
Verona, NY – At 6’3” and just shy of 230 lbs., Bryant Jennings is by no means a small heavyweight. Yet he’s been made to look so in each of his past two fights, each ending in losses to Wladimir Klitschko and most recently Luis Ortiz.
The latter saw Jennings dominated like he’s never been before. The Philly-bred boxer was battered early before getting dropped and subsequently stopped in the 7th round of their HBO-televised main event Saturday evening at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” Jennings (19-2, 10KOs) said of the loss. “But you know what, it’s part of the game. It may not be a part of the game I wanted to live with, but it is what it is. I’m a fighter through and through.”
Against Klitschko, Jennings gave away three inches in height and 15 pounds in fighting weight. However, he was also able to rely upon his natural athleticism in giving Klitschko a different look than what he’d previously experience in a title reign lasting more than nine years.
There was no such luck versus Ortiz (24-0, 21KOs), who is deceptively nimble – “a heavyweight Juan Carlos Payano” as described by his trainer Herman Caicedo, who also trains the unbeaten bantamweight champ – despite being built like a tank.
Many observers wondered why Jennings played the role of pressure fighter given Ortiz’ size and strength advantage and whether a rematch would play out any different. Perhaps less pressure, more movement and a better effort to exploit his opponent’s weaknesses rather than attempt to trade.
To his credit, the fallen heavyweight just wanted to absorb what took place and not have others make excuses on his behalf.
“I’d have to look back at the fight, see what worked and how effective I was in doing what I did,” Jennings said to media members during the post-fight press conference.
One thing he dismissed outright was any adverse effect that was thought to come with his having changed trainers for this camp. Jennings has worked with noted Philly cornerman Fred Jenkins throughout his career, but for this fight decided to enlist the services of hot hand John David Jackson, a former middleweight champ who has developed as a top trainer in the past 15 or so years.
The insistence throughout the pre-fight buildup was that the two clicked immediately and were pleased with the changes and improvements that came in camp. A loss doesn’t change that.
“Absolutely not,” Jennings stated in shutting down claims of something getting lost in transition. “We don’t need to start those rumors. I mean, (the media) can but I’m here to clarify we had a great camp. Jack stayed with me the entire camp. We tried everything we worked on but Ortiz was just the better fighter tonight.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox