For the first time in a long time, the heavyweight division in boxing is starting to glamour up some good matchups. For quite some time, and even now, the kings of the division were the famously known Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir. Dominating the division for years, the two were unstoppable. Not too long ago, Vitali retired from the sport to become heavily involved in politics, thus vacated any world title he held.
Of those title belts, one was the prestige WBC heavyweight championship. The belt would go on to be decided in a rematch between Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne. A bout that Stiverne won by TKO in the 6th round.
He would then be challenged by the knockout artist Deontay Wilder, who earned his right at the belt when he stopped heavyweight contender Malik Scott in the 1st round of their fight. Wilder and Stiverne were supposed to meet in the fall of 2014, but an injury to Stiverne and complications with negotiations such as money and the venue of the fight made for a delay.
The two finally met in January of 2015 and Stiverne, who looked nowhere in the fight, later to be said he was dehydrated, dropped the belt to the untested Wilder by unanimous decision. Wilder, right off the bat himself had a mandatory challenger by the name of Bryant Jennings.
In the summer of 2014, Jennings squared off against another heavyweight contender, Mike Perez for the right to become the mandatory challenger for the winner of Wilder-Stiverne. In a close match up, Jennings was able to walk away with a split decision win, guaranteeing him a world title shot, but its situations like these that become challenging for fighters when presented in their careers.
Jennings was then offered another title fight, one much bigger than facing Wilder. That was to go up against the remaining Klitschko in the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Now, we have seen this kind of situation arose before, where a fighter has a guaranteed title opportunity but gives up his spot for bigger money fight.
Is it the smart thing to do? One can argue that it is, but for some, it never ends the way they expect it too. If anyone can recall, back in September of 2012 fan friendly fighter Gabriel Rosado earned his shot at the IBF Jr middleweight title.
At the time, the belt was being held by Cornelius Bundrage. Personally, I thought Rosado would mop the floor with Bundrage and finally become the world champion many of his fans so rightfully wanted him to be. What happened? Rosado was presented with a bigger fight, to go against Gennady Golovkin for the middleweight titles.
He not only lost the fight, but he also lost his mandatory shot against a more vulnerable opponent. In this kind of situations, a fighter has a lot to win, but also a lot to lose. Don’t get me wrong, I’m positively sure should Jennings lose, he will still be given a shot at Wilder, but a fight with Wilder now makes more sense to me than a fight with Klitschko.
Though Wilder has 32 fights with 31 knockouts and no losses, he has only faced one opponent who could have presented a threat to him in Bermane Stiverne. The match up would have been great as Wilder would be getting a hungry opponent who is determined to win and can test him.
Meanwhile, Jennings has an opportunity to become world champion. Yes, he is very well getting that opportunity against Klitschko but, in this case, Jennings was just stepping foot on the ladder and then was catapulted to the top. He hasn’t worked his way there, and that could be his downfall.
Negotiations for the fight [Jennings-Klitschko] were tough, as they were presented with 2 venues that wanted to host the event, one of course being MSG and the other one, the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Then you were presented with the news that Jay Z’s RocNation was looking into buying out Gary Shaw Promotions, Jennings lead promoter, which it did.
When that happened, negotiations when back in the air as RocNation was looking into different things regarding the fight. After a few nicks and ticks here and there everyone came to an agreement and the fight was on, only for RocNation and Gary Shaw to part way not even less than a week ago.
At the end of the day, Jennings is confident, he is determined to win and he’s looking to shock the world. “This is it. I like to thank everyone involved with this promotion and my city of Philadelphia. It took a long time to make this fight happen and through it all I stayed calm.
I commend my team for allowing me to be the athlete that I am while these negotiations were going on. On April 25th, history will definitely be made, and it will be made by me. One of us has to lose, and it isn’t going to be me. Enough of the talking, I’m ready to fight.”