Thursday, June 08, 2023  |


Wladimir Klitschko, Bryant Jennings host final presser at MSG

Fighters Network
Wladimir Klitschko displays his collection of belts next to April 25 opponents Bryant Jennings. Photo by Al Bello/Bongarts-Getty Images.

Wladimir Klitschko displays his collection of belts next to April 25 opponent Bryant Jennings. Photo by Al Bello/Bongarts-Getty Images.

There are other fights on the horizon, you know. Saturday night, for instance, what could be a decent one is scheduled for Madison Square Garden in NYC, as pugilist-specialist Wladimir Klitschko, fighting offspring to the late tutor Emanuel Steward, seeks to elongate his winning streak at the expense of the athletically gifted but inexperienced Bryant Jennings.

The two men convened at MSG Tuesday for a press conference to trumpet the clash, which will run on HBO.

That in itself is newsworthy, as Wlad has been packing ’em in to soccer stadiums the last couple years, making big bank and demolishing all comers. Jennings told us he’s not next in line, that he visualizes a win and himself stopping the Ukrainian hitter.

“Someone is going to be knocked out. I’m not certain who. But I believe I will be the new heavyweight champion come Saturday,” the Philly-born and bred boxer, promoted by Gary Shaw, told me.

Klitschko was gracious at the event. He veered from an opportunity to dismiss Floyd Mayweather Jr. as a boor when a pressman asked what he thought of the braggadocious pound-for-pounder. Boxing is like a family, Wlad said, it takes all kinds. The overshadowing of the MSG titles defense by Mayweather-Pacquiao is not in fact over-shadowing, he explained, but complementary.

Speaking of “all kinds”… graybearded Brooklyner Shannon Briggs showed up, yanked off his shirt, and heckled Wlad.

He told me he’s promised a date with Klitschko in September.

Generally, his antics were met with good humor. Golden Boy rep Bernard Hopkins joked he’d like to be Cannon-sized so he could tangle with the beefy brawler.

Jennings came off as relaxed, which I think bodes well for him. He’s been training in Houston, got some intense tutoring from Virgil Hunter in Cali, and didn’t seem at all tight, which he was at the kickoff presser eight weeks ago.

Shaw told me it’ll be a hard climb, but that Jennings is the best athlete Wlad has met. That edge will speak loudest on Saturday, he maintained.

Many have spotted alleged holes in Klitschko’s game but haven’t been able to prove their theories. It will be a most tall order for Jennings to pull off. It would be helpful if the ghost of Philly-affiliated Joe Frazier entered Jennings’ body to push him along at MSG. Because Steward lit a fire of love for the sport and art under Wlad, and those flames still burn bright and tall. I do suspect someone will be dropped and stopped in NYC on Saturday and if history is any indication …

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