Klitschko Easily Defends Heavyweight Title in New York

The decade of dominance and the heavyweight championship remains with the Klitschko name and there was no doubt Saturday evening at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Wladimir Klitschko easily defended a major portion of the split heavyweight division titles with a unanimous decision win over the previously undefeated Bryant Jennings of Philadelphia.

Two judges at ringside had it 116-111 and the other 118-109 all for Klitschko, 64-3 with 54 KO’s, who defended the WBA, WBO and IBF titles before 17,506 fans, many of them Klitschko supporters from Kiev Ukraine.

Klitschko said about Jennings “He didn’t give me a chance to throw the right hand as much as I wanted. He is a great athlete. He would have beat a lot of top heavyweights.”

Klitschko’s nine year dominance of the division is the second longest in heavyweight history. Only Joe Louis held the title for 11 years and 8 months. It was the 18th consecutive heavyweight title defense for Klitschko surpassed only by Louis with 25 and and Larry Holmes with 20.

And including his first time as WBO champion this was Wladimir’s 23rd title defense. It was his first fight in the United States since facing Sultan Ibragimov at the Garden seven years ago.

There is the possibility that Klitschko could return to the Garden and defend the title again. The fight with Jennings, and the four fight undercard was held a week before the mega fight next Saturday night between Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao and that has boxing starved fans looking for action,

The Garden was content with the attendance that surpassed expectations. And officials after the fight expressed an interest of hosting another Klitschko title defense which makes sense. Klitschko has had a majority of his fights outside the United States but the heavyweight division at one time made Madison Square Garden the “Mecca” of boxing.

Said an elated Klitschko, who had minimal problems handling Jennings,”I feel great to be back after a seven-year break. Fans from all over the world also love to come to the States and see the fight at the Garden. It was a great experience.”

The 30-year old Jennings, 19-1-0, 10 KO’s, earned an opportunity at the title after winning a 12-round split decision over Mike Perez in New York at the Garden back in November. Klitschko took the title defense with Jennings and bypassed Tyson Fury who is also rated in the top five by most of the sanctioning organizations.

Jennings was not able to get to Klitschko and except for giving the champion some minor problems in the middle rounds the fight was no contest.

Klitschko threw 545 punches compared to the 376 of Jennings and landed 7 of 31 jabs per round in final Punchstat statistics.

Klitschko did not immediately comment about a unification bout with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder who attended the fight at ringside.

Said Jennings about his performance and inability to connect punches: “Every time I started working he held. I must have hit him with 100 body shots. He penetrated but he had confidence…I have confidence.”

He added, “It was the confidence that they all question me about. I’m a man and he’s a man, and when we get in the ring that’s what we’re here to do. This is a sport and we come to fight and come to put it all on the line, and we accept any outcome.”

That outcome was a loss and not a win or draw. And for Madison Square Garden it may have been a win towards getting the rights to staging another heavyweight title fight in the big arena.

In the co main event, Olympian Sadam Ali of Brooklyn New York who won the vacant WBO Inter Continental welterweight title back in November decisioned Francisco Santana in a 10-round unanimous decision.

The 28-year old Santana ,22-4-1, 11 KO’s of Santa Barba California had some good moments mid way of the fight but could not overcome a strong push by Ali in the later rounds.

Judges at ringside had it 97-93, 97-93 and 100-90 for Ali who remained undefeated at 22-0-1 and 19 K0’s.

“This was a great experience fighting here at Madison Square Garden,” Ali commented. “He was a tough fighter but I was able to take his punches. I want to fight a top ten fighter next.”

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and BoxingInsider.com, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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