by David P. Greisman
If you’ve never seen Teon Kennedy before, you’ve been missing out — the junior featherweight has been in back-and-forth battles in Atlantic City and Philadelphia, the roars from his wars becoming commonplace.
And if you’ve never seen Kennedy before, you’ll get a chance to — the 25-year-old Philadelphia resident with a record of 17-1 (7 knockouts) is fighting Jan. 13 on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.”
Kennedy will be fighting Chris Martin, who is 23-1-2 with 6 knockouts).
BoxingScene.com caught up with Kennedy to talk about the bout.
BoxingScene.com: You’ve got a big fight coming up on Jan. 13. What are your thoughts on headlining on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights”?
Kennedy: “I can’t be more excited. I can’t. I mean, I’ve been wanting to fight on ESPN for a long time. I’m very excited right now.”
BoxingScene.com: What do you know about your opponent, Chris Martin?
Kennedy: “I know he’s a very skilled fighter. He’s got a lot of slills, but I know he makes a lot of mistakes, too, that I know I can capitalize on. It’s going to be an exciting fight, the way he fights.”
BoxingScene.com: How important to you is it to make it an exciting fight as opposed to just getting the victory?
Kennedy: “I really don’t think it’s really that important that I make it an exciting fight. I just think if I go out there, it’s going to be an exciting fight anyway. I’m an exciting fighter.”
BoxingScene.com: Do you seek to be an exciting fighter, or does it just happen because of your style?
Kennedy: “I think it’s just something that happens because of my style. I don’t really go out there to be an exciting fighter. I just go out there to fight my fight.”
BoxingScene.com: Should you win Jan. 13, are there certain things you’re aiming for with your career this year?
Kennedy: “Right now I just want to fight all the top guys, all the guys with the world belts. That’s who I’m trying to fight. Anybody. It really don’t matter.”
BoxingScene.com: How much more pressure is there on you to get in and impress because of that?
Kennedy: “I don’t really think there’s any more pressure than there was before. I think that loss has kind of helped me out. It let me know I can lose. … There ain’t any pressure on me. It just makes me want to work harder.”
BoxingScene.com: Why do you think you lost that fight, and how have you worked to improve since then?
Kennedy: “I lost the fight because, for one, I didn’t know I was fighting until like two weeks before the fight. Plus I had a lot of stuff on my mind at the time, a lot of stuff that happened outside the ring.” [He’d been incarcerated and falsely accused of shooting a man.]
“I don’t want to be a fighter who keeps losing. I don’t want to be a fighter who wins one, then loses one, then wins one and loses one. I’m not gong to let that happen. I know I need to work harder. I know how it feels to lose. And I don’t like that feeling.”
BoxingScene.com: And in this case, you’ve known you’re fighting Martin for how long now?
Kennedy: “Like two months now.”
BoxingScene.com: And what’s the difference for you, in training camp and in the ring, when you’ve got more notice?
Kennedy: “Well it makes me have more time, and so in training camp you’re more prepared with who you going to fight. And when you’re in the ring, you feel more good because you’ve been training for a certain person. When you’re just finding out who you’re fighting, then you’re like, ‘Aw, man, I got to make a different game plan’ and stuff like that.”
BoxingScene.com: How much longer do you see yourself staying at junior featherweight?
Kennedy: “Well I make the weight pretty easy. I think I can stick at that weight as long as I want. But eventually I want to move to 126 and 130. … I walk around at like 138.”
BoxingScene.com: You’ve been fighting mostly in Atlantic City and the Philadelphia area. What kind of a difference will it be like to fight in Las Vegas?
Kennedy: “I don’t know if it should scare me that much, because in amateurs I traveled. I had a lot of amateur fights. I’m sort of used to it. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal.”
BoxingScene.com: For people who haven’t seen you before and seen the good battles you’ve been in, why should they know the name of Teon Kennedy — why should they tune in Jan. 13 and keep following you after?
Kennedy: “I am an exciting fighter. If I have to, I can slug it out. And if I can, I do the science of boxing. I do anything to win in the ring. I’ll leave it all in the ring to win a fight.”
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow David on Twitter at twitter.com/fightingwords2 or on Facebook at facebook.com/fightingwordsboxing, or send questions and comments to [email protected]