In professional boxing, it’s not about how many you beat or knock out – it’s all about whom did you defeat or knockout? With the universally acknowledged heavyweight champion, Wladimir Klitschko, losing his title to Tyson Fury last month the division now appears to be wide open. In Klitschko’s last bout before fighting Fury, he was pushed to go the 12-round distance by Philidelphian Bryant Jennings 19-2 (10), a fighter who only fought 17 times as an amateur before turning pro. No, Jennings didn’t deserve the decision he lost, but he was in the fight and absorbed Wladimir’s Sunday punch repeatedly during the bout and never really flinched. And two bouts before fighting Klitschko, Jennings stopped undefeated Artur Szpilka in the 10th and final round of their bout. Incidentally, Szpilka will meet WBC heavyweight title holder Deontay Wilder 35-0 (34) this coming January 16th.
Jennings is a fighter with limited experience who was more than willing to meet other up and coming heavyweights on way up the ranks, and until this past weekend he acquitted himself well. For first time in his career Jennings lost via TKO at 2:41 of the seventh round. The fighter who recorded the first stoppage defeat over Jennings is WBA interim title holder Luis “The Real King Kong” Ortiz 24-0 (21). And based on how he looked against Jennings, he very well may be the most dangerous heavyweight in boxing because he can box and punch out of a southpaw stance. In addition to that Ortiz is very strong and knows how to apply his strength. Oh, and as he demonstrated against Jennings, he can fight both inside and outside.
During the first round of the fight it didn’t take long for Jennings to realize that Ortiz’s power was too much for him if he stayed outside and was caught at the end of his punches. In the second round Jennings smartly began pushing the action and was effective once he gathered that he was safer inside smothering the massive Cuban’s shots. However, that took a lot out of him and he was forced to regroup from outside searching for another answer, but in the process he was getting repeatedly hurt. In the fourth round Jennings again found his way on the inside and seemed to once again stem the tide out the bout. But starting in the fifth round Ortiz began moving on his toes and was starting to pot-shot Jennings who was now coming in more slowly. By the sixth round Jennings made a fundamental mistake, most likely because he was wearing down….and the mistake was being stationary in front of Ortiz on the inside without letting his hands go. This cleared the path for Ortiz’s powerful left and right uppercuts on the point of the chin of the crouching Jennings. The bout ended when Ortiz dropped Jennings with a perfect uppercut to the chin. Jennings beat the count but the bout was halted when Ortiz unloaded on an unsteady Jennings when the fight resumed.
Luis Ortiz scored a big win this past Saturday night. Bryant Jennings is a 6’3″ 229 pound strong heavyweight who has been getting better with each fight. He pushed Wladimir Klitschko like not many other challengers could at a time when Wladimir was thought to be the alpha fighter in the division. Yet the 6’4″ 239 pound Ortiz overwhelmed him with his strength, punch placement and astute boxing aptitude. This comes with having fought over three hundred times as an amateur in the Cuban boxing program. After the fight even Jennings admitted that Ortiz’s pedigree was too much for him to overcome.
As of this writing the up and coming heavyweights getting the most attention are American Deontay Wilder and the UK’s Anthony Joshua 15-0 (15) and now Ortiz. The difference is, Wilder has one meaningful win on his resume and that’s Bermane Stiverne whom he defeated via unanimous decision. As for Anthony Joshua, he has yet to beat any fighter of note to this point. Whereas Ortiz conclusively stopped a younger heavyweight by today’s standards that was coming off of his best showing. It wasn’t just the stoppage that was impressive, it was his power and versatility exhibited along the way.
Based on his showing versus Bryant Jennings, Luis Ortiz looks like the most dangerous threat to newly crowned champ Tyson Fury 25-0 (18). The only problem with Ortiz is that he’s 36 years old and seems to be a little lazy. His work-rate isn’t upper-tier but his ability is. If the guy ever shows that he’s willing to really work, he’d be a real terror. I expect Wilder and Joshua to look the other way regarding Ortiz, at least in the immediate future, which looks like a wise decision from a boxing business perspective. Ortiz exhibited outstanding technical boxing basics and fundamentals. He set up the finishing uppercut on Jennings beautifully.
Yes, a heavyweight who can box and punch is a virtual God send for fans who have been craving some action packed fights in the division for years. Hopefully, the clock won’t expire on the 36 year old Cuban talent before he gets a shot at today’s upper-tier heavyweight newcomers getting the Lion’s share of attention.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com