Dan Rafael: Mike Mollo

Jennings to return vs. Szpilka

December, 16, 2013
Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant Jennings fought five times in 2012, all televised bouts, and went from unknown to hot prospect. He was even mentioned as a possible opponent for heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko.

Jennings had looked good in his fights and won three of those 2012 bouts by knockout. But then came a forgettable 2013, during which he fought just once, stopping Andrey Fedosov in the sixth round in June.

Jennings turned down fights, had issues with promoter Russell Peltz and also signed with a new manager, James Prince, who later negotiated the sale of Jennings' promotional contract to Gary Shaw and Antonio Leonard.

With a new year upon us, Jennings (17-0, 9 KOs), 29, is hoping that with a new team in place the layoff is a thing of the past, and that he can once again gain the attention of fight fans.

He'll start by facing Artur Szpilka (16-0, 12 KOs) of Poland in a scheduled 10-rounder on Jan. 25 (HBO) on the Mikey Garcia-Juan Carlos Burgos undercard at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"It feels like I've been caged up for so long," Jennings said. "I feel like I have all of this intensity built up inside of me and nowhere to release it. My hunger is so strong that not even killing it in the gym is an escape anymore, and the only way to satisfy my hunger is to binge. Jan. 25 will be a buffet. With every minute that passes, its like my hunger grows and that is bad news for Artur Szpilka."

Szpilka fought four times in 2013, twice in tremendous brawls with Mike Mollo, including a fifth-round knockout win in August in his most recent fight.

"I look forward to the challenge," Szpilka said of facing Jennings. "I have been improving with every fight and I am ready for anyone in the world. To take away his ratings in the world [organizations] by beating him will move my career forward, so that is what I will do."
U.S. Cellular FieldDavid Banks/Getty ImagesU.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox, will host the season finale of "Friday Night Fights."
A few notes from the world of boxing:

•  The Aug. 16 season finale of ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" is shaping up to be an excellent card, which will take place at U.S. Cellular Field, the home stadium of the Chicago White Sox. Two popular Polish fighters are on the card in good looking fights. Light heavyweight Andrzej Fonfara (23-2, 13 KOs) takes on former world titleholder Gabriel Campillo (21-5-1, 8 KOs) in the main event while heavyweight Artur Szpillka (14-0, 11 KOs) faces Chicago's Mike Mollo (20-4-1, 12 KOs) in a rematch of their pier-six brawl in February on the undercard. Szpillka won by sixth-round knockout after being down twice. It was a sensational fight that was on an ESPN2 card, but only aired on ESPN3.com after the telecast went off the air. ESPN2 plans to re-air the first fight during the Aug. 16 show and it is not to be missed.

•  The search goes on for an opponent to face featherweight prospect Gary Russell Jr. (22-0, 13 KOs) on the July 13 Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat undercard (Showtime) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Golden Boy had hoped to convince former featherweight titlist Jhonny Gonzalez to accept the fight but, according to matchmaker Eric Gomez, it's a no-go.

•  Promoter Gary Shaw has moved his Aug. 17 HBO tripleheader, which is topped by middleweight titlist Daniel Geale in a defense against Darren Barker, from Turning Stone Casino in Verona, N.Y. to the Revel resort in Atlantic City, N.J. The other two televised bouts are not set yet, but one of them likely will involve junior featherweight titlist Jonathan Romero.

•  Super middleweight titlist Robert Stieglitz (44-3, 25 KOs) has signed a multi-fight contract with German network SAT.1 and will fight his first bout under the deal on July 13 in Dresden, Germany, although he does not yet have an opponent for the defense. After Stieglitz stopped Arthur Abraham in the fourth round to regain his title in their March 23 rematch, both fighters professed interest in a rubber match. But forget about that now that Stieglitz is signed to SAT.1 and Abraham promoter Sauerland Event has its events exclusively on ARD, in what amounts to the German version of HBO versus Showtime in America.

•  Beginning with Saturday's card from the Bell Centre in Montreal, HBO blow-by-blow announcer Jim Lampley resumes those duties on the "Boxing After Dark" series. Lampley, who already calls the fights for HBO PPV fights and the "World Championship Boxing" series, replaces Bob Papa, who had called the fights on BAD since 2007. Before that, Lampley had called the fights on the series since its inception in 1996. According to HBO, Papa is leaving the role because of his expanded duties at the Golf Channel. "The emergence of date conflicts made the juggling of schedules impractical," HBO said in a statement. "Bob will remain connected to the HBO family so we can call on him in situations such as a split-site doubleheader when two broadcast teams are needed."

Bonus FNF coverage on ESPN3

January, 31, 2013
If you don't get enough boxing on ESPN2's "Friday Night Fights" this week, just head to your computer for bonus coverage from this week's card in Chicago.

On the televised card (9 p.m. ET), junior middleweight contender Carlos Molina (20-5-2, 6 KOs) faces former titlist Cory Spinks (39-7, 11 KOs) in a title eliminator in the main event. Welterweight Antwone Smith (22-4-1, 12 KOs) takes on former lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo (64-11-1, 55 KOs) in the co-feature.

But after the broadcast goes off the air at 11 p.m. ET, log onto ESPN3.com for coverage of a scheduled eight-round heavyweight bout between Polish prospect Artur Szpilka (12-0, 9 KOs), who lives in Chicago, and Chicago gatekeeper Mike Mollo (20-3-1, 12 KOs).

Broadcaster Joe Tessitore and Teddy Atlas will call the ESPN3.com bonus action in addition to the televised bouts (which also will air on ESPN3.com).