Dan Rafael: Antonio Leonard

Bryant Jennings layoff over

November, 27, 2013
11/27/13
8:28
AM ET
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.”

Jennings signs with Shaw, Leonard

October, 9, 2013
10/09/13
3:03
PM ET
Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings of Philadelphia on Wednesday signed with promoters Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard after buying out his existing agreement with Russell Peltz.

The 29-year-old Jennings, who is closing in on a mandatory title shot, rose quickly thanks to a big 2012 in which he won five televised bouts, including three by knockout. He has fought only once in 2013, a sixth-round knockout of Andrey Fedosov on June 14.

“I'm glad I'm finally moving forward in my career with a great team,” Jennings said. “Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard are two great promoters who have been in this sport for many years and have promoted some of the biggest fights in boxing history. I'm ecstatic to be managed by James Prince, because he's guided the careers of many world champions and his knowledge as a boxing manager is impeccable. It's truly a blessing to have these experienced gentlemen working on my behalf. I'm ready to take my career to the next level.”

Peltz and Prince had been working on making an HBO fight for Jennings against top contender Tomasz Adamek for Nov. 2, but when the deal fell apart, it caused friction between Peltz and Jennings. Ultimately, Peltz sold the contract in a deal engineered by Prince.

“It was strictly a business decision,” Peltz told ESPN.com. “My contract with Jennings was still good. It had close to two years still to run, but I sold the contract. I made a deal with Prince. I thought it was for the best.”

Shaw has seen his fortunes fade with a shrinking stable and some significant defeats, so the signing of Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs) is a huge lift for his company.

"First off, I want to say I'm very thrilled to be working side by side with my good friends Antonio Leonard and James Prince," Shaw said. "We've worked harmoniously together in the past when we had [late lightweight champion Diego] Corrales, and it was an astonishing journey. Now we've come together again with an outstanding heavyweight in Bryant Jennings.

“From what I've seen, Jennings has the personality and talent to become a star in this sport. He's a very kind young man who brings an exciting style to the heavyweight division. I'm very pleased to add Jennings to our rich history of great fighters here at [Gary Shaw Productions], and I'm working hard with Antonio and James to get him in a big fight. He'll be in the ring very soon."

Shaw said he is targeting a January return for Jennings.

“We’re going to try to get him on premium cable and get him in with the elite fighters,” Shaw said. “He’s ready for a larger step. He’s gone through the lower ones in the rankings. I got the opportunity to sign him, and I jumped at it.”

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