(VERONA, NY) Luis Ortiz turned Byrant Jennings into a frustrated damsel in distress, as “The Real King Kong” solidified his position as the world’s most threatening heavyweight on the planet, with a massive 7th round TKO of Jennings on HBO Boxing After Dark at Turning Stone Resort Casino. “By-By” (Jenning’s nickname) almost went there in the first, getting rocked by a left uppercut that would doom him throughout, as the sweet science’s glamour division enters a new era of intrigue.
By defending his WBA Interim world title with his emphatic stoppage of the Philadelphia product, Ortiz (24-0, 21KO) can now set his sights on the likes of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, or the newly crowned WBO, WBA, IBF and RING heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
You may remember Jennings (19-2, 10KO) because of his work against the talented Mike Perez and the legacy of long reigning champ Wladimir Klitschko. Jennings schooled and out-slicked Perez and withstood the thunderous 1-2 from the aging Klitschko, while dragging him into the bowels of attrition. The feeling going into this bout from Jennings – and many experts – was that he’d be too much for the very experienced, but, professionally green Ortiz; instead, it was he who was ripe for the picking.
“I wasn’t on my game, and he got the best of me,” Jennings said, while in no real mood to talk. “I didn’t adjust well and he was the better man.”
Oscar De La Hoya had Golden Boy waste no time in putting this bout together after Ortiz’s scary KO of Matias Ariel Vidondo on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin vs. David Lemieux at Madison Square Garden in New York City on October 17. It was a glamorously star-studded event, and a stage that “The Real King Kong” used to showcase himself in front of the world in dramatic fashion. In a span of just three months, Ortiz went from a relative unknown to a major player in the suddenly hot heavyweight scene, displaying a rare combination of shocking KO power and the nuanced work of a technician in brutally dispatching Jennings. Clearly, the big and unbelievably athletic Ortiz (who at 36, is 6’3 and 240 lbs) poses a major problem to any elite heavyweight in the world; a field that also includes the very dangerous rising star and 2012 Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua.
“I have been training for a big fight of this magnitude for three years. My strategy was to keep him at a distance and I was able to do that effectively with my reach and my jab,” Ortiz said. “I will fight whoever next, whoever Golden Boy Promotions gives me I will take. Wilder, Fury, Klitschko anyone of them, I am ready to prove that I am the heavyweight world champion. A lot of people say a lot of things about me, but the testing showed that I am a clean fighter.”
Before the fight, Jennings, 31, ripped into Ortiz for a shady resume and allegations of doping through performance enhancing drugs– two things he felt were the reasons for an unwarranted ascension. Belittling the tremendous amateur career of the powerful Cuban, Jennings compared Ortiz to a “Heisman Trophy winner who’s garbage in the pro’s” and vowed to “make him cry” in the ring. In reality, it was Jennings who was made to cry and look like an overrated amateur sensation (Jennings was heard screaming at the stoppage). The former championship contender was repeatedly struck with a smashing left uppercut from the southpaw stance and had no answer for Ortiz’s versatile attack. Oscar De La Hoya has found himself a blue chip at heavyweight in 2016 and beyond, as he closed an overall solid card in a rather crowd pleasing way.
In what may have been the worst decision in all of 2015, Nicholas Walters (26-0-1, 21KO) “lost” via majority draw against Jason Sosa (18-1-4, 14KO). The fight was ridiculously scored 95-95 on two cards and 96-94 for Sosa on the third. HBO’s Harold Letterman, an esteemed and reputable judge for years, saw it 99-91 for Walters. I had it 98-92 for Walters from ringside and changed my mind after watching it again. The re-viewing produced a score of 100-90, which may mean “The Axeman” might want to investigate ancestry.com to see if those judges are dangling in Sosa’s family tree.
What’s more about this egregious and preposterous decision, is that judge Tom Schreck’s (no relation to our big green friend from the movies– we think) card was overruled by Don Ackerman and Winn Kintz’s dubious draw scores just enough so that Walters didn’t have to swallow an actual defeat. Sosa is a hard-working professional fighter who offered a lot of ineffective volume punching. The draw sullies the beautiful body work of Walters and relatively sound ring generalship in shutting down Sosa’s game. All three judges should be examined for cataracts.
It was great to see Yuriokis Gamboa (25-1, 17KO) back in action with a hard fought decision over Hylon Williams Jr. (16-2-1, 3KO). At 34, Gamboa is no longer an elite fighter, and faded badly down the stretch due to perennial stamina issues. It will always be a shame that Top Rank’s Bob Arum blew his chance for a mega-fight with Juan Manuel Lopez when both were in their prime. Hopefully 50 Cent can find a way to secure a decent payday for Gamboa before he departs from the sport.
The same cannot be said for Ghanaian warrior Joshua Clottey. Sure, he still looks like a complete menace physically; but at 38, Clottey has absolutely nothing left, and holds the dubious distinction of being famous for doing nothing against Manny Pacquiao. In against a ring rusty Gabriel Rosado (who has spent the better part of a year fighting in BKB), as he lumbered around the ring in the same forgettable way you’ll remember against Pac nearly six years ago in Arlington, Texas. If you thought he couldn’t pull the trigger in that fight, its doubtful he even brought a gun to this contest. But overall, a great evening to close out the year for a sport that continues its resurgence.
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