Jennings expects TKO to lead to better things

North Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings stopped Artur Szpilka on a 10th-round technical knockout Saturday night.
North Philadelphia's Bryant Jennings stopped Artur Szpilka on a 10th-round technical knockout Saturday night. (ELSA / Getty Images)
Posted: January 28, 2014

NEW YORK - A Polish television reporter and cameraman cornered Bryant Jennings outside his locker room late Saturday night, and the North Philadelphia heavyweight saw his chance to tap into a more global audience.

He had broken the spirit of a pro-Polish crowd 20 minutes earlier with a dominant 10th-round technical knockout of Artur Szpilka at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. Jennings floored the Pole in the final round.

But Jennings said the performance was not the best he had to offer.

"Szpilka just fought the best heavyweight in the world," Jennings (18-0, 10 knockouts) told the Polish newsman. "He kind of made me not look like the best, because it was very awkward and sloppy." It was his confidence that allowed Jennings to flip the script after Szpilka was less aggressive than he expected. He and his trainer, Fred Jenkins, expected the 24-year-old to "try to literally knock me out," Jennings said.

Instead, Szpilka stayed defensive and forced Jennings to be patient with his attack. By the fifth round, Jennings found his way in and began targeting his foe with power punches. According to Compubox, Jennings connected on 84 more power punches than Szpilka.

He caught Szpilka (16-1) with a crushing left hook to the stomach in the sixth round, and the boxer stood still for a moment before crumbling to one knee. Jennings remained in control, pressing Szpilka before finally scoring the knockout.

"I was expecting him to be the aggressor," Jennings said. "Fight fire with fire. We both collide, he's coming at me, I'm coming at him. And we just sit there and trade shots. But it didn't really happen that way."

This was Jennings' first match after a seven-month layoff, but it came on a big stage - HBO. The impressive showing in his first appearance on the network will likely keep Jennings on premium television and make him a possible challenger for a world title.

Next for the self-proclaimed "best heavyweight in the world" may be a match with Mike Perez or Carlos Takam. The two heavyweight contenders fought to a draw earlier this month.

"I've got to let it soak all in," Jennings said. He later added: "I'm still humble, I still know where I stand. I do think I'm one of the best, but they haven't really seen anything yet."

Bradley-Pacquiao rematch. Nearly two years after WBO welterweight champion Timothy Bradley defeated Manny Pacquiao in a disputed split decision, promoters announced the two will fight again on April 12. Bradley will face the Filipino star at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the title Bradley took from Pacquiao in 2012.


mbreen@phillynews.com

@matt_breen

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