Live on Box Nation in the UK from 01:00 in the early hours of Sunday morning, world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko boxes in America for the first time in seven years and defends his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles at New York’s famous Madison Square Garden against undefeated American challenger Bryant Jennings.
Wladimir Klitschko: 63-3 (53 KO)
Engaged to former Heroes star Hayden Panettiere and the younger brother of ex-heavyweight champion and current mayor of Kiev, Vitali Klitschko, 39-year-old Wladimir Klitschko is a well known name in the sporting world and one who won Olympic Gold in 1996 as an amateur boxer.
Nicknamed ‘Dr. Steelhammer’, the 6 foot 6 inch Wladimir Klitschko is a multiple-time world heavyweight champion and an intelligent ring general that uses his long, powerful jab to great effect before looking to launch hard right hands and gradually force a stoppage.
The second longest reigning heavyweight champion in history with a total of 22 world title defences, 17 of which are consecutive, Klitschko has not lost a fight in ten years and, given the low quality of the heavyweight division, doesn’t look likely to do so anytime soon.
Success in boxing’s professional ranks hasn’t, however, always been easy to come by for the man considered to be the undisputed and true heavyweight champion of the world as after quickly compiling an undefeated 24-0 record, Wladimir Klitschko was knocked out by mid-level fighter Ross Purity in 1998.
Winning a few more bouts before beating Chris Byrd for the WBO heavyweight title, Klitschko was surprisingly knocked out by South African Corrie Sanders in the second round of their 2003 bout, and was again stopped in 2004, this time against Lamont Brewster when trying to win the WBO heavyweight champion once more.
With three knockout defeats against good but non-elite fighters, Klitschko’s career looked to be over as a top level fighter, but then he hired the late, great legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward, who shored the Ukrainian’s defence up, hid his weaknesses and played to his strengths with the jab being his key weapon.
Having later beaten Chris Bird, again, to win the IBF heavyweight title, along with Sultan Ibragimov for the WBO belt and David Haye for the WBA version, Klitschko’s dispatched a stream of uninspiring but tough fellow Eastern European fighters within an eleven-year undefeated period.
The then undefeated 20-0 Bulgarian Kurbat Pulev was ‘Dr. Steelhammer’s’ most recent opponent, and in an impressive display from the champion, a brave Pulev was felled several times before being knocked out in the fifth round of their November 2014 bout.
Bryant Jennings: 19-0 (10 KO)
Born in Philadelphia, USA, 30-year-old Bryant Jennings was a late starter in boxing, taking the sport up in 2009 and compiling a 13-4 amateur record, with his most notable achievement being a 2009 National Golden Gloves finals appearance.
Turning pro in 2010, the 6 foot 3 inch Jennings fought five times in his debut year, winning twice on points and three times within the distance. Nicknamed ‘By-By’, Jennings beat a string of low-mid level American boxers over the next few years, winning the Pennsylvania and USBA heavyweight titles along the way.
A boxer with a very long reach for his height, Jennings likes to stand and trade with his opponents at times, but also has a good defence with strong general athletic ability and speed, and is not afraid to use his jab. Jennings isn’t, however, considered to be a big puncher.
Most notably, at the very same Madison Square venue he fights at this weekend, Jennings beat the tough Cuban fighter Mike Perez on points in his last bout to earn a shot at long-reigning heavyweight kingpin Klitschko.
Klitschko v Jennings Betting
Heavyweight champ Klitschko is priced around 1/16, challenger Jennings is offered at 8/1 and you can bet on an unlikely draw at 33/1. As for method of victory betting, Klitschko is 1/4 to win by KO/TKO or DQ and 9/2 on points, while Jennings is 12/1 to stop his opponent and around 25/1 to emerge victorious by a scorecard verdict.
The Klitschko v Jennings betting Verdict
In conclusion, the smaller Jenkins has an unusually long reach for his height, but has only stopped just over half of his opponents and shouldn’t pose much of a knockout threat to the taller champion, so the heavy-hitting Klitschko will not fear going for the kill and looks extremely likely to add to his 53 knockout victories.
However, with a Klitschko KO win far too short to back at a general 1/4 price and a slow and cagey start with Klitschko feeling an opponent out who has reach advantage of three inches and a decent defence before judging his range, catching Jennings with a big right hand and forcing a mid-to-late round stoppage also being plausible, I’ve opted to take a small bet on Klitschko winning between rounds seven and twelve.
Take note, however, that it’s only a small bet. I fully expect Klitschko to win, but this time we’re guessing on a grouped rounds bracket that’s far from being a safe bet, but one worth taking at small risk nonetheless.
Of course, next weekend it’s the biggest fight of the century with Mayweather vs Pacquiao set to take place, and I’ve already had what I believe to be the right bet in that and will tell you about it in the next article.