By Jake Donovan
Bryant Jennings has always been an advocate for a clean sport, but understandably had more reason to stress that point ahead of his next fight. The consensus Top 10 heavyweight contender is in the final stages of preparation for his December 19 showdown with unbeaten southpaw Luis Ortiz.
The bout will air live on HBO from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, New York. For Jennings, it’s his first fight back since a 12-round loss to then-World heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in April, with that fight coming nine months after his split decision win over Michael Perez to earn the title fight.
Ortiz (23-0-0-2NC, 20KOs) comes in as the more active fighter, despite having sat out for nine months due to a suspension and preparation for his return. The 36-year old was popped for a banned substance in drug testing surround his clash with Lateef Kayode last September in Las Vegas. The 1st round knockout win was changed to a no-contest, with Ortiz dealt a fine and suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
He returned in June, with two knockout wins leading into his first fight on HBO’s flagship station. His most recent appearance came in October, scoring a 3rd round knockout of Argentina’s Matias Ariel Vidondo at Madison Square Garden. The bout - came on the PPV-televised undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s knockout win over David Lemieux – was originally intended as the heavyweight showdown we now get on December 19, one that carries the assurance of a level playing field.
“For this fight we are doing VADA,” Gary Shaw, Jennings’ promoter confirmed during a recent media conference call. “It’s something Golden Boy Promotions (Ortiz’ promoter) agreed to.
“Bryant Jennings is a vegan. They can test him 24/7.”
Like Jennings (19-1, 10KOs), Shaw is also strongly in favor of the sport putting its best foot forward rather than settle for the relaxed standards that precede far too many major fights.
“For the betterment of the sport, we need to drug test all the time and prove to the public that we are a clean sport,” Shaw insists. “We need to prove that the two warriors who put their lives on the line –and sometimes give up their lives – are clean.”
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox