Ringside Report: Klitschko Holds Off Scrappy Jennings
- Updated: April 25, 2015
It wasn’t an easy victory lap. In fact, it was the hardest fight the great Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 53 KOs) participated in since 2005 when Samuel Peter nearly took his entire head off. However, Wladimir Klitschko gritted out a surprisingly tight unanimous decision victory against decided underdog Bryan Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) in front of a lively Madison Square Garden crowd of 17,056.
The fight in New York, NY was Klitschko’s first since 2008 and represented a major event in the New York sports scene. For the occasion, he chose a scrappy and upstart American challenger who had earned his spot to the big dance. Jennings subsequently followed form. The first four rounds of the fight were largely typical Klitschko fare with the larger champion using strong foot work and size to keep the American challenger at bay. However, by the fourth round, Jennings began to exert himself with a series of nice right hands that made the Ukrainian champion take notice. Sensing that he was a live dog, Jennings began working more right hands into his repertoire, while also using his footwork to ensure that he was not a sitting duck for big Klitschko right hands. This tactic worked as Klitschko appeared to tire as the fight wore on; a possible sign that the 39 year old is no longer the dominant champion he was in his earlier years.
To further Jennings’ cause, referee Michael Griffin refused Klitschko’s desire to hold and lean on the American in an effort to wear him down – a typical Klitschko tactic when fighting in Europe. This development culminated in a shocking moment in round 10 in which Griffin took a point from Klitschko just as Jennings was gaining momentum.
However, Jennings could not capitalize and Klitschko, in fact, seemed to come alive as he punctuated the last two rounds with a litany of sharp and damaging right hands which ensured his victory. To his credit, Jennings took them like a scrappy and lionhearted pugilist who was there to win. Ultimately, Klitschko’s size won the day and he was awarded the fight via scorecards of 118-109 and 116-111 (2x). Three More Rounds also scored the fight 116-111.
The fight was an interesting chess match which served to elevate Jennings status within the division even in defeat and affirmed the suspicions that age has begun to catch up to the great Ukrainian champion. However, Wladimir also deserves credit for accepting such a difficult fight far away from the comfortable confines of Germany and Eastern Europe, where officials have no issue with his holding and strong arm tactics. Wladimir accounted for himself well in a fight which could prove to be his last in the United States.
Ali Handles Santana Amid Controversy
Welterweight Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 KOs) of Brooklyn, New York fulfilled a life-long dream of fighting in the vaunted halls of MSG. He punctuated that dream with notching an impressive unanimous decision against Francisco Santana (22-4-1, 11 KOs) in welterweight action. While Ali deserved to win the fight, the scorecards were on the wide side with two judges awarding him the fight 97-93 and one Alan Rubenstein rendering an audacious scorecard of 100-90.
Overall, however, Ali deserved the W after using his superior technical skills to largely nullify Santana’s aggression and punctuating this strategy with several strong uppercuts throughout the fight. The narrative of the fight largely followed a very close pattern of the two combatants trading rounds in the early portion of the fight with Santana utilizing body shots and right hands to score points, while Ali effectively fought backing up and using power shots when need be. That boxing acumen favored Ali in the middle portions of the fight when Ali began pulling ahead on the scorecards. For a while it appeared Ali would be cruising to a victory, but Santana made a strong account of himself in the eighth and ninth rounds. Sensing a close fight, Ali closed the show with a dominant last minute of power shots that appeared to confirm the narrative that Ali was the clear winner. Just not as big a winner as the scorecards indicated.
American Heavyweight Charles Martin Makes Statement
29-year old heavyweight Charles Martin (21-0-1, 19 KOs) of St. Louis, MO continues to emerge as a rare American heavyweight prospect that is actually worth watching. The former U.S. PAL amateur champ easily walked through Britain’s Tom Dallas (17-4, 12 KOs), who was once regarded as a solid amateur in his native home, through a number of strong left hands which eventually ended the fight at 2:56 in the first round. Martin has a number of notable opponents on his resume and appears to have genuine power that will make him a factor or at the very least a fixture on network television fixture. By dominating Dallas in front of a large MSG crowd and HBO execs, it’s likely that Martin will be making an appearance on HBO airwaves shortly.