At the age of 33, Bryant is an eight-year pro. A heavyweight contender, he got a late start in boxing at 24 and had very little amateur experience – only 17 fights – but had impressive success against quality opposition as an amateur and professional.
Bryant recently signed a promotional contract with Top Rank, and is co-promoted by Antonio Leonard.
In his last fight on April 28 in Philadelphia, he won a 10-round unanimous decision against Joey Dawejko. It was Bryant’s fifth fight working with trainer John David Jackson.
ESPN.com’s Dan Rafael reported from ringside [excerpts]: City of Brotherly Love heavyweight bragging rights go to Bryant Jennings.
Jennings toyed with Joey Dawejko to win a lopsided unanimous decision and avenge an amateur loss on the Jessie Magdaleno–Isaac Dogboe undercard on the Top Rank on ESPN card at the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University.
Jennings won by scores of 98-92 on all three scorecards as he also claimed the vacant Pennsylvania State title.
In Jennings’ third amateur fight, Dawejko hung a loss on him. But as professionals, Jennings was the one to emerge as a bona fide contender….
There were spurts of action with both fighters winding up and trying to land their best shots. Jennings attacked Dawejko’s ample midsection and Dawejko fired hooks to the head and landed several borderline body shots that caused Jennings to look to referee Gary Rosato because he thought they were low.
Both continued to shoot body shots in the fourth round and some strayed low, drawing a warning from Rosato to both fighters as the action began to pick up.
Jennings was in a groove by the sixth round and Dawejko was unable to get past his long jab with any success. Jennings snapped it out, kept Dawejko at bay and landed right hands, including a clean one that rocked Dawejko’s head back in the final seconds of the round.
Jennings caught Dawejko with solid uppercuts in the seventh round when Dawejko appeared to be looking to rest on the inside.
Dawejko tried to push Jennings to the ropes and fire right hands in the final round, but Jennings did what he did most of the fight, which was to work on the inside and fire right hands and jabs to keep him away. A left hook seemed to rattle Dawejko midway through the final round as Jennings continued to let his hands go. Later in the round, Jennings knocked Dawejko’s mouthpiece out. [End Rafael item]
In his post-fight interview, Bryant said, “That’s pretty much the Joey that I expected. There was a lot of hesitation from the both of us. As many prayers as he launched, he didn’t really land any. He landed a couple, but he was launching prayers. Joey has thick legs, and I was just trying to be cautious and not get caught with some desperate shot. I knew going into the eighth, ninth and 10th rounds that I was winning.”
In an earlier interview, Bryant said, “John David Jackson is my trainer now. When you replace a position, you search for the best person for that position and John’s name came up. I tried it out, I liked it, and went with it.
“He has a different set up, a different system, but I’m the same athlete. I have the same ambition, maybe even more. It’s just like one technician finishing up a product and sending it to the next technician to put his little shining on it. It’s a good transition – it’s a progress.
“I don’t see anything that could be a setback, because I am still who I am, and I’m the type of person that is going to work. I’m going to do what I need to do regardless, just with some added things to the repertoire. It’s all positive.
“I’m always pretty comfortable and confident with my conditioning and my awareness, my quick thinking and the way that I adjust.”
When Bryant was still a novice pro with only 11 fights – six four-rounders and five six-rounders – he got a big break and made the most of it.
For the debut show of NBC Sports Network’s “Fight Night” series on January 21, 2012, one of the fighters in the main event withdrew from the fight a week earlier. Unable to find a suitable replacement, the promoters put together a new main event that matched two young, undefeated heavyweights – Bryant versus Maurice Byarm – both of whom were moving up to 10-round status for the first time.
Bryant gave a strong performance and won by unanimous decision, which led to four more appearances on the series.
He had a “breakout” year in 2014 and established himself as a heavyweight contender. Bryant took significant steps up in class of opposition and scored his two most notable wins against previously undefeated opponents: a 10th-round TKO against Artur Szpilka (16-0 at the time) that January 25, and a 12-round split decision against former Cuban amateur standout Mike Perez (20-0-1 at the time) six months later on July 26.
Those wins put Bryant in the position to challenge for the heavyweight world championship in April, 2015. Bryant lost a 12-round unanimous decision against defending champion Wladimir Klitschko, but gave a strong performance.
Regarding his nickname, Bryant said, “I spell my nickname ‘By-By.’ ‘BY’ is my nickname – everybody calls me BY since high school. But since I started boxing and things like that, they just got used to saying Bryant ‘By-By’ Jennings. BY stands for ‘big young boy,’ because I was the same size – 6’3″, 230 pounds – at the age of 14 and 15. We drag out the words ‘young boy’ – the inner-city slang way we pronounce it sounds like ‘young bull’ – but if somebody speaks correctly, it’s ‘young boy.’ And it’s all one word, no separation. You know how slang in the inner-city goes. We mastered the slang. We come up with all of the slang.”
AMATEUR, PERSONAL BACKGROUND: Bryant said, “I was born and raised in North Philly. I have seven brothers and four sisters – no other boxers in the family. We’re all athletes, but none professional.
“I played football, basketball, and ran the 200 meters at Ben Franklin High School. I was the top guy in football – the top guy in the city in my position. I played defensive end.
“I was 24 when I started boxing. It was the last week of December, 2008. I just walked into the gym to stay in shape. I had 17 amateur fights. Within eight months, I had fought in three national tournaments. I had just started in January and the Golden Gloves were in May. Some people box their whole childhood and never make it there. I only had five months.
“I had to learn to love it. You know, it was like a relationship – it wasn’t something that I immediately loved. Once I loved it, I started to respect it more. But me, as an athlete, I came in with the attributes that a real natural athlete had. That was the best thing for me. I would always run anyway. I would always be dedicated. I would always watch what I eat and stay in shape – just because. I came into the game with that. I came into the game with my six-pack. I came into the game with my muscles and all that. I just had to learn to love and respect the things that boxing came about, like those extra sacrifices.
“I’m naturally right-handed, but I am ambidextrous. I can write with both hands. I can do everything with both hands except for playing basketball and throwing a football. I do that with my right hand. I’ll switch to the left-handed stance in the ring sometimes, too.
“I’m single and I have a son, Mason. He was born on September 25, 2008 – we were born on the same day.”…