Rapid Reaction: Jennings stops Szpilka
January, 25, 2014
By Brian Campbell | ESPN.com
NEW YORK -- After outboxing fellow unbeaten heavyweight Artur Szpilka for nine rounds Saturday, Bryant Jennings came through with an exclamation point to close out a showcase performance.
Moments after scoring his second knockdown of the fight on a hard left hook in Round 10, Jennings poured it on in the corner to force the stoppage in front of a sold-out crowd of 4,829 at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Jennings (18-0, 10 KOs), 29, fought just one time in 2013 due to a promotional switch after posting five wins in a breakthrough 2012 campaign. But Saturday's victory came on his largest platform to date.
Although Jennings talked after the fight of the many things he didn't like about his performance, he thoroughly controlled the rugged yet one-dimensional Szpilka (16-1, 12 KOs) by taking away the southpaw's biggest weapon -- his straight left hand.
After a rather uneventful set of opening rounds, Jennings used his footwork to walk down Szpilka, a native of Poland, and land clean shots to the head and body. He also hid behind his high guard throughout to smother any attempts at a Szpilka counterattack.
Key moment: If there was any doubt in Jennings having established his command midway through the fight, the Philadelphia native landed the first impact punch of the fight in Round 6 when he floored Szpilka with a left hook to the midsection. Although Szpilka was game until the 10th and final round when the fight was stopped, his confidence was never the same.
We've got your number: 46. That's the percentage of power punches landed by Jennings on Saturday. Although not known as a heavy puncher, Jennings continued to pile up clean, flush shots to the head of Szpilka throughout the second half of the fight, setting him up for the finish in Round 10.
Final word: The heavyweight division has lacked a competent American title threat for some time. Although Jennings isn't the kind of puncher who many would consider a candidate to become the next heavyweight champion, his talents as a smart defensive boxer were on full display. Not only did Jennings avoid doing anything to hurt his stock, he closed the show in emphatic fashion.