Former world heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich of Belarus will be taking on American prospect Bryant Jennings on March 24th in Brooklyn, New York. Liakhovich was scheduled to take on Eddie Chambers of Philadelphia in January, but Chambers broke some ribs while sparring. Jennings then volunteered to take on Liakhovich on short notice, but was deemed to be too inexperienced, therefore he ended up fighting Maurice Byram instead and won an impressive 10-round decision.
The 27-year-old Jennings will take his unbeaten record of 12-0, with 5KOs into the ring with him. The former Pennsylvania State Heavyweight Champion had a fine amateur career and made it to the finals of the 2009 Golden Gloves Nationals and PAL Nationals. However, he lost both tournaments to Lenroy Thompson. Jennings is quite quick and mobile for a heavyweight, but it’s unclear if he possesses enough power to deal with Liakhovich.
Liakhovich (25-4, 16 KOs) is 35 years old now but comes into the ring at 6-foot4, meaning he has a two-inch height advantage over Jennings, but the American has a 10-inch reach advantage. He’s a former WBO Heavyweight Champion and had a spectacular 145-15 record as an amateur. He won his title belt in a highly entertaining fight over Lamon Brewster in Cleveland in 2006 by a unanimous decision.
However, he lost his title in his first defence three months later when Shannon Briggs knocked him out in the last second of their bout in Phoenix. He’s also lost to Nikolai Vaulev (unanimous 12rd decision) and Robert Helenius (TKO 9) and has only fought six times in the last seven years. He has decent power and can take a punch pretty well, but may have trouble with a skilled boxer, especially one with such a big reach advantage as Jennings.
If Jennings sticks and moves from the outside and stay out of range he’s likely going to be quite successful. Jennings also has an advantage in the speed department and the fight could resemble a matador and a bull, with the American playing the part of the matador. Liakhovich will have to keep moving forwards, be aggressive, get in Jennings’ face and turn the fight into a brawl. However, if Jennings picks him off with long-range jabs it’s going to be hard to make this an inside fight.
Liakhovich has the experience but has been relatively inactive over the last half a dozen years, while Jennings needs to win this fight to make a name for himself in the heavyweight division. They should both be motivated as a loss will set them back quite a bit. If Liakhovich can recreate the magic he showed against Brewster when he won the title he shouldn’t have a problem with a relative newcomer like Jennings. But that magic took place six years ago.
This should be quite an interesting fight and it’s likely that it’ll go the distance with Jennings taking a decision.