Jennings, Kovalev near big fights

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
5:51
PM ET
Heavyweight prospect Bryant Jennings and light heavyweight contender Sergey Kovalev are two of the more interesting fighters around.

Jennings has been in some entertaining fights and his name has come up as a potential future challenger for champion Wladimir Klitschko, while Kovalev is a brawling beast with great power and is on the doorstep of a mandatory title fight against the winner of the July 13 fight between titleholder Bernard Hopkins and his present mandatory challenger, Karo Murat. There have also been whispers that Kovalev could wind up getting a shot against titleholder Nathan Cleverly on Aug. 17 in a fight that HBO would televise.

The point is that Jennings and Kovalev are both on the brink of major fights, which is what makes their bouts on Friday night on “Fight Night” (NBC Sports Net, 8 ET) at the Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem in Bethlehem, Pa., so important.

Jennings (16-0, 8 KOs), 28, of Philadelphia, is in the main event and will take on Los Angeles-based Russian Andrey Fedosov (24-2, 19 KOs), 27. After a breakout 2012, in which Jennings won five fights, four of which were nationally televised on “Fight Night,” this will be his first bout of 2013.

Kovalev (20-0-1, 18 KOs), 30, is coming off a very impressive third-round knockout of former titlist Gabriel Campillo and faces Cornelius White (21-1, 16 KOs), 31, of Houston, in a title eliminator that will make the winner the mandatory challenger for the Hopkins-Murat winner.

The opener of the tripleheader is Bethlehem welterweight Ronald Cruz (17-1, 12 KOs), 26, against 34-year-old Ghana native Ray Narh (25-2, 21 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Jennings, who works a day job as a mechanic, is looking forward to fighting after a long layoff.

"I haven't boxed since Dec. 8 and I'm anxious to get back into the ring," said Jennings, who is coming off a highlight-reel fifth-round knockout of Bowie Tupou.

Jennings is well-aware of the prospects that could await him if he keeps winning but said he tries not to pay attention to it.

“I never look ahead,” he said. “Yes, I'm on the fast track to the top but people can make mistakes when they forget to concentrate on the task at hand. My job is to beat Fedosov, then move on to bigger and better things.”

If Kovalev is everything some people think he is -- a surefire future titleholder -- then he should handle White, whose lone loss was by first-round knockout at super middleweight to Donovan George in 2011, although White has won five bouts in a row since.

“I will win because I am dedicated to this fight, I have a big desire to win, and I am hungry," said Kovalev, whose only blemish is a second-round technical draw with Grover Young in 2011. “I do not know much about White, but this is not unusual for me. My job is to train as hard as I can. I have every confidence that I have all the tools I need to beat White.”

Kovalev’s trainer, former junior middleweight titlist John David Jackson, likes what he sees in Kovalev, as do many others in boxing.

“He's a tremendous puncher, probably the most pure puncher in the division," Jackson said. "I don't try to change anything he does because his style is very unique. It's not conventional. He punches from different angles. One thing he does really nice is when he throws his shots, he sits on almost all his punches. I just try to add small things to his game.

“Cornelius White is a nice fighter, but I don't think he has enough ammunition to offset what Sergey is bringing to the table that night. I know it won't go the distance.”

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