- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Heavyweight Bryant Jennings fought five times in 2012 (winning all of them) and, because of such regular activity on nationally televised cards, emerged as one of the hottest heavyweights in the division. Then came an utterly forgettable 2013 in which he fought just once against a nobody and slipped from the minds of many.
But now, having signed with a new manager (James Prince) and new co-promoters (Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard), Jennings is primed to get 2014 off to a good start with a high-profile HBO fight.
HBO and Shaw are still haggling over a deal, but Jennings is penciled in to open the Jan. 18 card at the Bell Centre in Montreal on the telecast headlined by the long-awaited light heavyweight showdown between former champion Jean Pascal and former super middleweight titlist Lucian Bute.
“I'm really excited about the opportunity for Jennings to appear on HBO. I think this is where a career accelerates to the next level,” Shaw said.
Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs), 29, of Philadelphia, doesn’t have an opponent yet, but the leading candidate is former title challenger Mariusz Wach (27-1, 15 KOs), who turns 34 next month. Wach, a native of Poland based in New Jersey, has not fought since heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko routed him in a near-shutout decision in a December 2012 title defense in Germany because he tested positive for steroids after the fight and has been under suspension.
“Wach is a fighter who went 12 rounds with one of the [Klitschko] brothers. He is big, roughly 285 [pounds], 6-foot-8, and will be a terrific test for Jennings, as to whether he can handle a man this size,” Shaw said. “As a heavyweight, he is going to have to fight many different size fighters, unlike a specific weight class, where the size and weight are roughly the same.”