Undefeated heavyweight title aspirants, Bryant “By-By” Jennings and Mike “The Rebel” Perez contest a WBC heavyweight title eliminator Saturday, July 26th. They will be in support of the featured main card, middleweights Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden, New York, New York. Their fight was originally scheduled for May 24th in Corpus Christi, Texas, but Perez injured a shoulder, so it was rescheduled with an “upgrade” to Madison Square Garden, a mighty fine deal me thinks.
Bryant Jennings is a highly touted Philly fighter in his second straight Madison Square Garden appearance and should be the “hometown” favorite after coming off his biggest win ever, knocking out Artur Szpilka in a fantastic heavyweight scrap that mixed in high level boxing, heady brawling, and heavy duty slugging. Jennings closed the show in old school Bob Fitzsimmons style with a classic solar plexus shot that Szpilka amazingly managed to beat the count, but could never recover from.
Too many stoppages in today’s boxing landscape are premature and perhaps this one was a smidgeon so, but clearly Szpilka looked done after a brutal fight of give and take. We can understand when the ref walks that fine line in juggling official rules with the spirit of the intended purpose of the rules. Referee Mike Ortega deserves plaudits in overseeing an action packed classic by use of excellent judgement as he respected the fighters roles, something his peers would do well to take note of.
Mike Perez fights in a stark southpaw contrast, a Cuban refugee washed up in Cork, Ireland where he sheltered before launching his world tour in Germany, UK, Canada, and the US. He is also in his second MSG appearance, the first being when he beat fellow undefeated prospect Magomed Abdusalamov into a coma that left him on life support for many months and permanently damaged for life. Though Mago has recently shown signs of improvement, Perez and the boxing community have since struggled to deal with the backlash, most significantly the reputed lax oversight by the New York commission that has resulted in a nasty lawsuit. Perez returned to the ring only a couple of months later for an understandably lackluster showing against a big, tough prospect Carlos Takam in Canada that by hook or crook Perez managed to scrape out a draw.
All talents, ages, and experiences otherwise being somewhat equal, 29 year old Jennings at 18-0, 10 KO and 28 year old Perez at 20-0-1, 12 KO, the compromised mental state of Perez will be key to how this fight goes as he returns to the “scene of the crime.” I expect Jennings to use his speedy boxer/puncher form to take the early lead with the animated MSG crowd roaring in ecstatic delight. Will that be punishment enough to jump start Perez out of his recent ring lethargy to make the good fight for this golden fleece?
The main card is emblematic of two foreign nationals having top billing over Americans on American soil these days. One of the most formidable champions currently holding a title, 32 year old Kazakhstani Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin and former IBF/WBA champion Daniel “Real Deal” Geale Daniel out of Australia are top class operators willing to travel to wherever for a good fight. Geale is in the mold of a fancy dan stylist who can also fight if need be. He has some terribly hard work cut out for him as Govolokin makes his 11th defense of what has been upgraded to the Super WBA title, all previously won by knockout.
Overall these fights could prove to be quite interesting in their fashions, so boxing fans and any casual fans who happen to tune in could score big time, but only if the New York commish can oversee an equitable enforcement of their rules and regulations, sadly never a given in boxing…fingers crossed…XX…