Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko gained what he was looking for in his return to The Garden – a win. The manner in which he collected his 64th career-victory was far from spectacular, but in a very workman-like, methodical way, Klitschko got the job done.
Despite not dominating the fight, like pugilist fans have been accustomed to seeing over the years, Klitschko had no problem gaining a unanimous decision against Bryant Jennings to retain his titles for the 18th time before 17,056 vocal fans on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I was expecting to get the win, to defend my titles,” Klitschko said at the post-fight presser. “Unfortunately, I didn’t defend as impressively as I usually do it.”
Despite the non-dominant performance, the scorecards were certainly lopsided in the champ’s favor, as the judges had it 118-109, 116-111 and 116-111.
Klitschko, who now sits at 64-3, (54 KO’s) looked perhaps a bit slower and less powerful as usual, however his 6’6″ frame has proven to be the biggest obstacle for opponents to overcome. Jennings, who dropped to 19-1, (10 KO’s), tried as best as he could to pound Klitschko’s body, along with some winging overhead rights sprinkled in, however any momentum Jennings tried to garner would be thwarted by Klitschko’s constant clinching.
Eventually, a point was deducted by referee Michael Griffin from Klitschko late in the fight for excessive holding, but the point served as just a blip on the scorecards; not affecting the fight.
Klitschko’s historic run as the heavyweight title-holder now sits at nine years, second only to Joe Louis, who owns the record of more than 11-and-a-half years.
“I feel great to be back after a seven-year break,” Klitschko said after returning to fight in the United States for the first time since February 2008. “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.”
Jennings had his moments in the fight, landing on some wide overhand rights, however, he had problems building any momentum, and never had Klitschko in any sort of trouble.
“Every time I started working, he held me,” Jennings said. “I thought the margin (on the scorecards) should have been closer.”
“Jennings is a very good challenger, a very good competitor,” Klitschko said after the fight. “He would have beaten a number of top heavyweights.”
Only six years in the sport of boxing, Jennings definitely impressed many on press-row, standing up to one of the all-time greats at The Mecca of Boxing.
“Even in a loss, they should not praise me, but salute me and show respect,” Jennings said, “This fight does not penetrate my confidence.”
“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 boxing ring) that’s what we’re here to do,” Jennings said. “This is a sport and we come to fight and come to put it all on the line, and we accept any outcome. Win, lose or draw.”
In a fight that few would call an action fight, Klitschko landed 144 of 545 punches, while Jennings connected on 110 of 376.
“Let’s do it again. I saw him huffing and puffing. Wherever that ‘Steelhammer’ was, it didn’t penetrate this inexperienced, small fighter,” Jennings quipped.
Jennings connected in the sixth, which garnered “Dr. Steelhammer’s” attention, but as any great champ does, Klitschko came on strong, firing his left jab over and over again – sending the back-peddling Jennings on the retreat.
Jennings, knowing he was behind on the scorecards and despite his desire, was unable to mount sustained pressure or throw the haymaker in the late rounds.
Klitschko will most likely fight mandatory challenger, Tyson Fury (24-0 (18 KO’s) next. It’s a fight that should take place in Europe, however, Klitschko could soon fight at The Garden once again, as the emergence of U.S. born heavyweight, Deontay Wilder, has many putting the two together for a fight next year.
Wilder, 33-0 (32 KO’s), together with Klitschko could stage the bout, which could become the signature fight Klitschko desires at this stage of his career.
But by no means is Klitschko prepared to begin planning for his retirement. He even joked about seeking out the 50-year-old Bernard Hopkins to ask him about the keys of fighting in the fifties.
“I’m enjoying it so much right now,” Klitschko said. “Every second and every moment.”