Bryant Jennings, the businessman of boxing
When you ask heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings if boxing is more business than a sport, he doesn’t hesitate to give you an answer.
“It’s a business,” he stated unequivocally. “I would never say it’s just a sport. Shouldn’t nobody ever look at it as just a sport. Oh yeah, we love it like a sport but you better treat it like business first because that’s exactly what it is.”
Jennings – who faces Alexander Dimitrenko tonight from the Oceans Resort Casino in Atlantic City in an ESPN main event – would know. After a 2015 that saw him give a game effort in going the distance against heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, then get stopped by Luis Ortiz to end the year, Jennings’ career was bogged down by promotional issues and he didn’t perform again till August of 2017.
During that spell, as he was under the banner of Gary Shaw and then shifted over momentarily to the ill-fated RocNation Sports boxing department, his career stagnated and he was sidelined till he brokered a deal with Top Rank (with whom he has four bouts under his belt coming into the Dimitrenko fight).
“It’s all good. Y’ know, the activity is very consistent; the chemistry is good. The negotiations go smooth and we don’t have no complaints right now,” said Jennings of his new union. With Top Rank’s partnership with ESPN, Jennings has been able to fight consistently and he is slowly regaining his mojo in the ring. However he promises, “They haven’t seen nothing yet. The best is yet to be pulled out. Being on top of my game…nah, I still have a lot of things I need to do. I’m still learning and, one of these fights, it’s all going to come out. It has to be (against) the right fighter.”
So the question is, with Jennings being ranked eighth by the WBO, would he accept a title shot against Anthony Joshua (who holds that title), if it were offered at some point in 2018 or early next year?
After chuckling, the native of Philly laid it down like this, “Let’s go back to the question – is boxing a business or is it a sport? Now I’ve been in the game long enough to be fully prepared for a lot of things and that would make it a great business decision and what would make it a not-so-great business decision is the fact that I’m not ready.”
But he did add, “So I’m always ready and I’m always down for business and, if it sounds good, if everything’s all good, then we’re making it happen.”
In September, Jennings will be 34 but, as a boxer, he doesn’t have as many miles on the odometer as some of his contemporaries, since he took up the sport just a decade ago. When asked if he feels young as a fighter, he states, “I wouldn’t know the difference but I still feel young because I don’t know how feeling old feels. I don’t know how feeling old in boxing feels. So I still feel as I did when I was pretty young.”
As for his immediate goals, specifically against Dimitrenko, Jennings goes Malcolm X.
“To win…that’s it. Listen, it has always been to win and that’s what it will always be – to win by any means necessary.”
You can listen to what else Jennings had to say on this week’s edition of “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” with Mario Lopez and me:
ATLANTIC CITY FLURRIES
Jennings sizes up the heavyweight division here…The super middleweight bout between Jesse Hart and Mike Gavronski is the co-feature on ESPN tonight…Gervonta Davis vs. Abner Mares at 130? Ehhh…Summer is just flying by; isn’t it?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.