Dan Rafael: Johnathan Banks

Jennings aims to close 2012 strong

December, 3, 2012
For the past couple of years, Seth Mitchell has been regarded by many as the top American heavyweight prospect. But Mitchell was surprisingly knocked down three times in the second round and stopped by Johnathon Banks in an upset on HBO on Nov. 17.

Banks and Mitchell will fight again, probably in February or March, because Mitchell is exercising his rematch clause -- and he might win the second fight. But after such a rough loss, it's hard to view Mitchell (25-1-1, 19 KOs) as the best American heavyweight prospect any longer.

He's still a prospect, yes, but the designation of No. 1 U.S. heavyweight prospect now falls to either Bryant Jennings (15-0, 7 KOs) or 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Deontay Wilder (25-0, 25 KOs). Both will have a chance to show their stuff to the public in nationally televised fights this month.

Wilder, 27, will face Kelvin Price on Showtime on Dec. 15 on the Amir Khan-Carlos Molina undercard. But first up is Jennings, 28, who will try to close out what has been an excellent year for him when he takes on Bowie Tupou (22-2, 16 KOs) in a scheduled 12-round fight on Saturday night (10 ET, NBC Sports Network) at Temple University's 4,500-seat Pearson/McGonigle Hall in Jennings' hometown of Philadelphia.

Jennings will be fighting for the fifth time in 2012. He began the year as an unknown but has emerged as a strong prospect because of his performances.

He outpointed previously undefeated Maurice Byarm in January on the debut "Fight Night" card on NBC Sports Network, where he has become a regular. In March, he stopped former titleholder Sergei Liakhovich in the ninth round. Then he outpointed Steve Collins in June and got a breather with a first-round knockout of soft touch Chris Koval on Sept. 8.

"If you thought my fight with Byarm was a big transition for my career, then the rest of the year was magnificent," Jennings said. "I went from never being ranked by a major sanctioning body to being arguably the best [heavyweight] prospect. That's unheard of."

When the year began, few were paying attention to Jennings. Now, as he enters the Tupou fight, there are people paying attention. Jennings also has to deal with the fact that the fight is being held in his hometown.

"It kind of puts a little more pressure on me," he said. "I'm home, and I definitely have to be on my P's and Q's. I have to make sure everything is perfect. This year was definitely great because I exceeded my expectations. I actually did it. That shows how focused and hungry I am to achieve my goals."

Knockouts help hurricane relief

November, 19, 2012
Adrien Broner and Seth MitchellTom Briglia/Hoganphotos/Golden Boy PromotionsAdrien Broner and Seth Mitchell were part of Golden Boy's push to assist in hurricane relief efforts.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Thanks to each of the seven fights on Saturday night's Golden Boy Promotions card at Boardwalk Hall ending in a knockout, Golden Boy, company president Oscar De La Hoya and Caesars Atlantic City will donate $44,292 to the Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, whose facilities sustained considerable damage during Hurricane Sandy.

Golden Boy pledged to donate $2 per ticket sold and $1,000 per knockout scored during the seven-bout card headlined by Adrien Broner's eighth-round knockout of Antonio DeMarco in a lightweight title bout.

The tally from tickets sold was $7,764 and $7,000 for knockouts scored. That total of $14,764 was matched by De La Hoya and Caesars Atlantic City, bringing the total donation to $44,292.

Golden Boy also donated fight tickets to the organization, and Broner and heavyweight Seth Mitchell, who lost in a major upset to Johnathon Banks, visited one of the clubs on Wednesday to meet with kids and help clean up Hurricane Sandy-strewn debris from the grounds outside the facility. Several of the area facilities were heavily damaged during the storm, forcing closures that directly affected underserved youth and their family members who rely on the club.

"We are extremely happy that we were not only able to host the fight in Atlantic City and give people a great night of entertainment, but that we were able to raise the monies to make such a large contribution to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Atlantic City," De La Hoya said. "It is so gratifying for all of us at Golden Boy to be able to help this area recover from the impact of this destructive storm."