LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE: It looks like we are a go. Here is a release sent out by Roc Nation, which says that April 25 is full steam ahead.
ROC NATION SPORTS ANNOUNCES NEWLY SIGNED
BRYANT JENNINGS TO CHALLENGE WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
APRIL 25 AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN IN NEW YORK CITY
LIVE ON HBO
New York, NY (January 20, 2014) – Roc Nation Sports has reached an agreement for newly signed boxer Bryant Jennings (19-0, 10 KO’s) to face Heavyweight World Champion Wladimir Klitschko (63-3, 53 KO’s) on April 25 at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City in a fight that will air live on HBO’s World Championship Boxing. Jennings will challenge Klitschko for his International Boxing Federation, World Boxing Association, World Boxing Organization and International Boxing Organization titles.
“Roc Nation Sports is proud to present Jennings with the opportunity to win the Heavyweight Unified Title of the World,” said Gary Shaw, Roc Nation Sports Boxing executive.
The undefeated Jennings most recently faced then fellow unbeaten heavyweight contender Mike Perez (20-0-1, 12 KO’s) in New York on July 26, 2014 at Madison Square Garden, scoring a 12-round split decision victory. The Philadelphia native is a dynamic puncher who has achieved top ratings across all major sanctioning organizations and has his sights set on bringing the unified heavyweight world titles back to the United States.
”This is the moment I have been waiting for,” said Jennings. “Now it’s time to bring the belts home.”
Klitschko’s battle with Jennings will be his 27th heavyweight championship fight. In addition, this will be Klitschko’s first U.S. appearance in seven years since his first unification fight on February 23, 2008 against Sultan Ibragimov. Klitschko has held the title since April 22, 2006 and has defended it 17 times, making him second to legendary Joe Louis as the longest reigning world champion in heavyweight history.
Team Klitschko sent out a release on Tuesday morning announcing that Wladimir Klitschko, the little bro with the big stash of belts, would put 'em on line against Philly's Bryant Jennings. April 25 at MSG, the release said. Not long after came a response from Roc Nation's boxing department, saying, in essence, 'Not so fast.'
Gary Shaw, heading up the day to day boxing matters, along with David Itskowitch, told TSS that the Roc contingent hadn't signed papers to make the bout official. If and until then, a release going out would be premature. Until then, that fight is not official.
A story on ESPN.com had and has the fight a done deal, and the story hasn't been pulled, so I'm guessing the John Hancocks get scribbled and we're a go. I'm also guessing that the following line uttered by Klitschko advisor/negotiator Bernd Boente might not be winning him friends in Roc offices. “The negotiations with Roc Nation were exhausting and unnecessary but now all is set,” Boente said in the ESPN piece. He could have added, I guess, “continuing,” right?
So stay tuned, friends…
Here is the release sent out by the Klitschko crew:
Wladimir Klitschko defends his titles against Bryant Jennings in New York City
New York City–January 20: IBF/WBA/WBO/IBO and “The Ring Magazine” World Heavyweight Champion, Wladimir Klitschko will defend his titles on April 25th against US fighter Bryant Jennings. The fight will take place at the legendary Madison Square Garden in New York City. Seven years after his first unification fight Wladimir Klitschko finally fights in the US again.
The 30 year old Bryant “By-By” Jennings from Philadelphia is 6ft 3in, and has an almost 3 inch longer reach than Wladimir Klitschko. Jennings has an outstanding record: 19 wins, 10 by KO and no defeats. In his last two fights he won against the undefeated Mike Perez and Artur Szpilka. Jennings is a former US heavyweight champion and ranked very high in all world boxing organizations.
For years Wladimir Klitschko has been the undisputed No 1 in the heavyweight division. He has won the gold medal at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. In his last fight Klitschko knocked out the undefeated mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev. The clash with Jennings will be Klitschko’s 27th Heavyweight World Championship fight. His professional record is currently 63 wins, with 54 KOs and only three defeats. Wladimir Klitschko has been world champion for the second time since 2006 and is now second to the legendary Joe Louis, the longest reigning world champion in heavyweight history.
Wladimir Klitschko: “I do have great respect for Bryant Jennings and his achievements. He has good movement in the ring and good technique. I know this will be a tough challenge. I am extremely happy to fight in New York again. I had my first unification fight here and a lot of great heavyweight matches have taken place at Madison Square Garden. It will definitely be a great fight night and I will do everything for it from my side.”
Bernd Bönte, CEO of the Klitschko Management Group (KMG): “For the fourth time Wladimir will be boxing in the world's most famous arena. It’s always something special to promote at Madison Square Garden, where legends such as Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield stood inside the ring. We are looking forward to another exciting fight and a great event.”
Tom Loeffler, Managing Director of K2 Promotions: “Wladimir has proven to be the most dominant heavyweight champion in recent history and we are looking forward to another great performance on April 25.”
Peter Nelson, vice president programming of HBO Sports: “Heavyweight is boxing's supreme glamour division, and its champion could not be a better ambassador to the sport in a career heading toward historic landmark achievements. Bryant Jennings has an opportunity to halt those ambitions and become America's first unified heavyweight champion in more than 13 years, challenging for the crown in the media capital of the world. HBO is thrilled to present the event live on our flagship World Championship Boxing series.”
In the US, Klitschko vs. Jennings will be broadcast live und exclusively on HBO and in Germany on RTL.