Shortly before midnight Saturday, standing behind a podium in the recesses of Madison Square Garden, Bryant Jennings turned retrospective.
“It’s been one hell of a ride,” he said. “Five years (ago), January 2009, I walked into the boxing gym. And look at me now.”
Next year, just six years after long-time Philadelphia trainer Fred Jenkins cajoled him off the basketball court and into the boxing gym, Jennings will fight for the heavyweight championship of the world. The 29-year-old from North Philadelphia on Saturday ensured himself that chance, recovering from a slow start to win a split decision against the more-experienced Mike Perez.
Two judges scored the fight 114-113, one in favor of Perez and the other for Jennings, while the third deemed Jennings a 115-112 winner. A one-point penalty to Perez for hitting after a break in the final round, in effect, sealed the win for “By-By.”
- Mariners fire general manager Jack Zduriencik
- Now comes the hard part for the Mariners: Hiring Jack Zduriencik’s replacement
- Mariners demote struggling catcher Mike Zunino
- Why Russell Wilson needs to water down his Recovery claims
- Wet weekend ahead, with high winds and heavy rain expected
Most Read Stories
For his mandatory title shot at the World Boxing Council belt, which likely won’t come until the spring, Jennings (19-0, 10 knockouts) will fight current WBC champion Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs) or knockout artist Deontay Wilder (31-0, 31 KOs). Stiverne, a 35-year-old from Haiti, and Wilder, a 6-7, 28-year-old from Alabama, are expected to battle in November or December.
Jennings is only about 4½ years into his pro career.
“I think about that all the time, like even when I attend fights,” Jennings said. “I look at it like, ‘I really do this. I get in there.’ It’s just like, ‘Wow.’ It’s crazy.”
The boxer’s experience spans only 5½ years, but Jenkins starts the story when he began badgering the well-built young man on the basketball courts at North Philly’s ABC Recreation Center.
“I saw his talent before he even knew he had talent,” Jenkins said.
Philadelphia Daily News