Joe Latti – Brick City Boxing — NEW YORK CITY- On February 23, 2008, undefeated Russian Heavyweight Sultan Ibragimov stepped into Madison Square Garden to take on a 31 year old Wladimir Klitschko. Klitschko left New York City with a victory by unanimous decision and hasn’t returned to fight in the Unites States since. All of that changed Saturday night when Klitschko made his return to the states to take on another undefeated heavyweight, this time it was Philadelphia’s Bryant Jennings.
Klitschko seemed to be missed, as the crowd was littered with Ukranian flags and would erupt even at the sight of him on the arena screens before his match-up with Jennings.
Jennings looked to be cautious in the early going, with Klitschko landing jabs at will. Jennings started to open up in the 3rd round, showing more comfort and going to work on Klitschko’s body. The trend continued as Klitschko kept pumping his jab and holding whenever he could break the momentum, while Jennings landed punches sparingly. By round 7 Jennings looked like a different person, moving around the ring more freely and displaying more confidence in his punches. At one point Jennings started to taunt Klitschko, as it looked like he said “hit me” while the two were squaring off. Referee Michael Griffin had seen enough of Klitschko’s constant holding and deducted a point in round 10. Jennings knew he was down on the cards and looked as if he was going for the knockout in round 12, but Klitschko held him off and even answered with a big right hand toward the end of the round. The judges scored the bout 118-109, 116-111 and 116-111 all for Klitschko.
Klitschko seemed to use his right hand sparingly, making spectators question a possible injury. When asked about this after the victory, he responded, “My right hand is OK. Bryant didn’t give me the chance to throw the right hand as much as I wanted.” The dominance for Klitschko continues as he has been on a 9 year title reign, with 18 consecutive defenses. Klitschko improves to 64-3 with 53 knockouts while Jennings receives the first blemish on his record at 19-1 with 10 knockouts.
The co-main event featured Brooklyn, NY native Sadam Ali (22-0, 13 KO) taking on Francisco Santana (22-4-1, 11 KO). Paulie Malignaggi came out in Ali’s corner as they have been training together the past few weeks. The bout started at a slow pace with the early advantage going to Ali. The tides started to change in round 4 as Santana started landing more effective punches, however Ali seemed to still be in control of the bout. Santana landed two big punches in round 8 that excited the Madison Square Garden crowd, but Ali wasn’t shaken and continued his dominance into a unanimous decision victory. The judges scored the bout 97-93, 97-93 and a surprising 100-90.