Wiser Bryant Jennings says he’ll be too much for Ortiz
Bryant Jennings watches the replay of his April fight against Wladimir Klitschko and he kicks himself. He sees what he could have done, what he should have done, and his body twists and turns, still reacting to the former heavyweight champion.
The Philadelphia heavyweight contender says he learns every day. Jennings, 31, says his comfort zone and that clarity he likes to carry into the ring didn’t arrive until the fourth round against Klitschko.
That’s the difference Jennings vows he will bring against Luis Ortiz (23-0, 20 knockouts) when the two clash this Saturday in a scheduled 12-rounder on HBO from the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York.
For his first fight since suffering the only setback of his career, Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) has restructured his corner. John David Jackson has replaced Fred Jenkins as Jennings’ trainer.
“I think my attitude is different, and it changes every day,” Jennings said. “I have a clear head to think, a clear head to intake information and be comfortable to intake information, being comfortable to listen to certain people, and trusting strategies and that’s definitely a plus for me, especially when switching trainers and things.
“I have to trust this person; I have to trust this person’s perspective and strategy. You don’t want to get into the ring thinking this stuff isn’t going to work. You go into a fight feeling unprepared, and you start doing your own thing and it down rolls from there. I want to come to work, and then when is the next one. I don’t want to be around bad energy. I’m fighting to be comfortable.”
Jennings admits he took too long to engage Klitschko. It still bothers him. It’s a mistake he says he won’t make again, starting with Ortiz.
“After watching the Klitschko fight, it all goes back to that trust factor and I didn’t see the things I was able to do, and should have done,” Jennings said. “After watching it, there are things I know I could have done to win that fight. I learned a lot. But I learned more about myself. To the point that some of the instruction that I received, I should have jabbed more and threw the left hook more.
“I wasn’t allowed to get into any rhythm because of Klitschko’s constant holding. I should have attacked more. He held every chance he could get. I definitely should have been more aggressive earlier. I could feel him getting more uncomfortable, and it would have played a factor in the end.”
Against Ortiz, Jennings wants to show off his power. It bothers him that Ortiz tested positive for the banned anabolic steroid nandrolone in the post-fight drug screen after stopping Lateef Kayode in the first round on Sept. 11, 2014. It was later ruled a no-contest by the Nevada Athletic Commission.
Jennings doesn’t see Ortiz on the same level as himself.
“He has issues,” Jennings said. “I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. He lacks confidence. He has chin issues. His conditioning needs to be questioned. He’s going to have to fight, and he’s someone that’s not used to being touched. He doesn’t have dog in him.
“That would have shown already in previous fights. This is his first real fight in his boxing career. He’s 36 and has been boxing forever. Facing me is something new to him. He hasn’t faced anyone like me. This is a place he hasn’t been before.”
Ortiz took great exception to what Jennings feels.
“I don’t need to prove to anyone the confidence I have in myself as a fighter,” Ortiz said through his trainer and interpreter, Herman Caicedo. “I have had much better competition as an amateur than Bryant Jennings, and though I haven’t faced the opponents that Jennings has had a professional, I have tried to get better, quality opponents the last four or five fights. As far as the steroids were concerned, I tested again right after that test and everything came back negative. The positive test could have been a result of a lot of different things. The positive came from very, very minute allowances allowed. They could have been from anything. Unfortunately, that was a result, and besides, who cares about that now?
“It’s been over a year, and I’m going to show things to Bryant Jennings on Dec. 19 that he hasn’t seen before. If that’s what he’s basing his ability to beat me on, he’s in for a very rude awakening. I am angry over this. It’s over. Here’s the point: It was a very personal matter and I’m being accused of being a cheater, and my morals as a man are being questioned. That’s never been an issue with me. I have no reason to cheat, and I understand it happened. I’ve passed every test in my past. It’s not an issue. What happened set me back an entire year, and I’m ready to make that time up.”
Jennings laughs at that. He’s now in an unusual spot, being considered the favorite. However, he doesn’t want to see it that way.
“I don’t pay attention to the favorite or underdog, and that normal nervous is going to be there,” Jennings said. “I don’t want to be comfortable before the fight. I want to be comfortable during the fight. I’m coming 100 percent.”