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Bryant Jennings, Shakur Stevenson set to share doubleheader on Jan. 18


Top Rank is plotting out its 2019 schedule and one priority is to set up a title shot for their heavyweight contender.

Bryant Jennings will headline a card streamed on ESPN+ on January 18 at Turning Stone in Verona, New York, Top Rank chairman Bob Arum told The Ring. Junior lightweight prospect Shakur Stevenson will fight in the other featured bout.

Jennings and Stevenson share the same management group — one led by James Prince and Josh Dubin — so the pairing is a natural one (Stevenson is also managed by Andre Ward.)

The 34-year-old Philadelphian gave a strong effort in a 2015 heavyweight title challenge of Wladimir Klitschko, and then suffered a second consecutive loss with a knockout at the hands of Luis Ortiz later in the year. Jennings (24-2, 14 knockouts) survived a fourth-round knockdown to stop Alexander Dimitrenko in August in one of his best victories.

Stevenson (9-0, 5 KOs) delivered the breakthrough performance of his short career with a first-round stoppage of Viorel Simion┬álast month. The Olympic silver medalist finally showed the power that’s long been a question mark in addition to improved strength.

The 21-year-old native of Newark is one of the sport’s brightest prospects, and Ward is confident he can reach that potential in time, but there’s no rush.

“Everybody wants the meal to be cooked like yesterday. It doesn’t work like that,” Ward told The Ring on Friday. “The kid is maturing little by little. He’s not even as strong as he’s going to be. He’s 21, so once he reaches 23, 24, he’ll reach another level of strength; 26, 27, hit another level of strength. It just keeps building.

“If he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing, he’ll keep getting stronger and stronger. People just need to be patient. I think he has the potential to be an all-time great. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t say it. But there’s contingencies with a young fighter. Potential is not actually realizing what you could be. You gotta stay focused.”


Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger