One of the better American heavyweights of recent years is set to return to action. On Tuesday, ESPN’s Dan Rafael reported that Bryant Jennings has been added to the undercard for Terence Crawford’s August 19 clash with Julius Indongo.
Jennings has been out of action since getting battered by Cuban sensation Luis Ortiz in December 2015. Prior to that, he was universally viewed as a top-10 fighter in the heavyweight division.
Hardcore fans began to gain awareness of Jennings back in 2012. The Philadelphia native started that year by capturing the Pennsylvania Heavyweight title with a one-sided, 10-round decision victory over Maurice Byarm in January. For the year, he went 5-0 with 3 KOs. Among his knockout victims in 2012 were former belt holder Siarhei Liakhovich and fringe contender Bowie Tupou.
In 2013, Jennings stopped tough Russian contender Andrey Fedosov. In 2014, he moved into the top 10 by stopping Artur Beterbiev in January and edging Mike Perez via split decision in July.
Jennings got a world title shot at Wladimir Klitschko in April 2015. He lost by fairly one-sided decision, but showed impressive defensive skills and athleticism against a long-time, dominant champion with a very high KO ratio.
Ortiz proved Jennings’ undoing, though. While Jennings entered that fight with the more impressive professional resume, Ortiz had a decades long amateur record and was the far more skilled and savvy boxer. He hammered Jennings with combinations to the body and head and stopped him in Round 7.
Afterwards Jennings was open about the fact that Ortiz had simply presented him with too big a technical challenge. Jennings is a very intelligent, thoughtful fighter. He took up the sport at the late age of 24 and his athletic IQ has allowed him to advance far in a brutal sport. I doubt he has spent the past 20 months sitting back and taking it easy. Expect to see an improved fighter in the coming years.
His opponent for this return bout is 15-4-1 Daniel Martz. He’s a gigantic, 6’7″ fighter and a credible pro. But he should be relatively easy work for Jennings.
Jennings signed recently with Top Rank and so we should expect to see him in some relative fights in the future. I am curious to see what kind of improvements we will see from him in the future. He is 33, which is not ancient for a heavyweight.