By Sean Crose
“I learned a lot about life in different respects.”
So Bryant Jennings told me during a conference call last week after I asked how his recent loss to Wladimir Klitschko had changed him.
“The majority of things I learned wasn’t about me and boxing it was about me and life,” he continued. “It made me a clearer person, a more open person.” Yet the heavyweight contender, who was on the phone with reporters to discuss his upcoming bout with heavy hitting Luis Ortiz, also made it clear that the loss to Klitschko impacted him as a fighter, as well.
“It made me more professional,” he said. “It made me push harder.”
Jennings (19-1), is nothing if not an engaging, even thoughtful individual. In this, he appears to be the opposite of Ortiz (23-0) , who seemed to be a bit confused and defensive when I asked during the same call if he felt Jennings may have changed as a fighter since losing to Klitshcko.
“He thinks he’s nothing like Klitchko,” Ortiz’ interpreter said to me, “so don’t compare them.” Okay, then. Jenning’s, however, felt free to say quite a bit about the man.
“He’s confident,” Jennings said of his opponent, “but he’s a little too overconfident.”
Indeed, Jennings’ words regarding Ortiz had dire overtones.
“He has to humble himself,” he continued, “because it’s going to be an embarrassment.”
Part of Jenning’s feelings for Ortiz clearly stemmed from a drug test Ortiz failed last year after mowing down Lateef Kayode in less than one round. It was an incident that led to Ortiz dealing with a suspension.
“The guy is a guy who once used steroids,” Jennings stated. The Philly native, who doesn’t think much of the current heavyweight division, seemed aghast that any heavyweight would have to use steroids in this day and age.
“You gotta cheat,” Jennings asked rhetorically, “in this era? This era? This era is bullshit.”
As for Klitchko, Jennings was a bit taken back by the man’s recent defeat at the gloves of Tyson Fury.
“It was the worst fight in heavyweight history,” he said sincerely, “I swear to God, it was the worst fight in heavyweight history.”
One thing that was made abundantly clear during the conference call was that both fighters would be tested for drugs thoroughly. Not just tested, but tested by VADA, which – in light of the events leading up to the Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao bout – is seen by at least some observers as being more reliable than USADA.
Yet regardless of what organization does the testing for the fight, Jennings clearly came across as ready to get back in the win column.
“I feel 19 years old,” he said. “That L (to Klitschko) wasn’t a loss, it was a learn.”