By Jason Pribila – Ringside in Bethlehem: Main Events and Peltz Boxing brought their Fight Night series back to the Sands Casino Resort in Bethlehem, USA. The evening started off with hometown fighter Ronald Cruz suffering a one-sided decision loss to Ray Narh, but it only momentarily dampened the mood in the arena. Fans were soon treated to offensive fireworks set off by light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, and treated to a heavyweight battle eventually won by Bryant “By By” Jennings.
It is hard to dispute that no one has benefited more from the Fight Night platform than Philadelphia heavyweight Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9KO). A relative unknown when the series made its debut in January of 2012, Jennings has rattled off six straight wins and is now considered by some to be America’s top heavyweight prospect.
With success comes tougher competition, and that was provided by Andrey Fedosov (24-3, 19 KO).The Russian native came forward throughout the fight and regularly gave as well as he got against Jennings. Fedosov controlled the distance and ripped body shots whenever Jennings allowed his back to touch the popes. As we’ve become accustomed to with Jennings, he used bursts of energy to neutralize and stop Fedosov in his tracks.
An evenly contested opening two rounds set the stage for the round of the night.
A stalking Fedosov was again moving forward when Jennings unleashed a right uppercut left cross that wobbled Fedosov. Sensing that he finally hurt his foe, Jennings unleashed a two fisted attack that would have sent many heavyweights to the floor. Fedosov weathered the storm and came charging back when Jennings momentarily slowed down. Fedosov survived the 52 of 72 power punches that Jennings threw in the round, but he went back to his corner with a damaged left eye.
Fedosov bounced back in round four. He went back to attacking the body, and Jennings continually backed himself into the ropes. Jennings is a supremely conditioned athlete so he had plenty in the tank, but it seemed as if his legs were tightening up on him.
Jennings started quickly in round five. He continually landed hooks off his uppercut. He was now making Fedosov pay each time the Russian closed the distance.
Jennings was now beginning to distance himself on the scorecards by landing eye-catching short hooks. His lateral movement was back, and a straight left hook punctuated another Jennings round.
When Fedosov walked back to his corner, the ringside physician again took a close look at Fedosov’s badly swollen eye, and decided that it was too damaged to allow him to continue.
It is hard to question a stoppage when someone’s vision is at stake, but it would have been nice to give the game Fedosov another three minutes to try to pull out the victory.
That being said, there was little protest from the Fedosov corner, and hopefully the decision will allow him to return to the ring quicker. Fedosov is a solid heavyweight that will be a tough out for most in the division.
Jennings is now ranked #3 by the IBF, but he still needs to gradually raise his level of competition before entering the ring against either Klitschko brother. Tomas Adamek would make a great dance partner, but he has just signed to fight Tony Grano when Fight Night returns in August. I may be selfish, but I would like to see Jennings back in Bethlehem against a top ten heavyweight.
Final punch stats favored Jennings who landed 157 of 420 (37%) total punches. Fedosov landed 34% of his 238 total punches.
While Jennings was putting the heavyweight division on notice, Sergey Kovalev has been busy putting the world on notice. Through 22 professional fights, Kovalev (21-0-1, 19KO) has averaged less than three rounds per outing. Friday night would be no different.
Kovalev was matched up against Cornelius White (21-2, 16 KO) with the IBF #1 ranking at stake. White’s only previous loss was a first round KO loss at the hands of Don George in 2011. White rebounded by winning five straight, but he admitted he had a mountain to climb in Kovalev.
NBC Sports Network analyst B.J. Flores cautioned fans at home not to move away from the TV as the opening bell rang. On cue, Kovalev charged across the ring and threw a flurry of a half dozen punches that immediately put White on his heels.
Kovalev never let up as he landed 29 of 59 power punches in the opening three minutes. White stood in the best that he could and even landed a few jabs in between Kovalev volleys. White landed his cleanest punch of the fight as the second round came to an end.
That punch was quickly forgotten as the bell rang to start what turned out to be the final round of the fight. Kovalev led off the third by landing a lead left hook. Kovalev then threw and landed a double left hook – right cross combination that set up a straight left that sent White to the canvas. White rose and was greeted by another flurry. A right hand to the body hurt White and another left sent him back to the canvas. White rose momentarily until a final left hook sent White to the canvas for the final time. Referee Gary Rosato stepped in and waved off the fight at 1:42 of round three.
The victory now puts Kovalev squarely in the title picture. He won an IBF eliminator. That titlist of that governing body is 48 year old Bernard Hopkins. “The Executioner” was scheduled to face Germany’s Karo Murat in a mandatory title defense on July 13, in Brooklyn. However, that fight was called off due to Murat encountering visa issues. The IBF said they would determine if the delay would propel Kovalev into the mandatory slot. My thought is that there is a better chance that you will see me in the ring with Hopkins before you see him defend against Kovalev.