Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Jennings is Going to Give it His Best Shot

To say that Michael Jennings is a massive underdog in his WBO welterweight title fight against Miguel Cotto on Saturday night would be an understatement. A quick survey of boxing fans and boxing writers will tell you that not a one of them gives the unknown Jennings any chance at all.

But for those willing to take a monetary plunge and bet a few dollars on the fight, Jennings is somewhat of an enticing underdog as a $100 bet on him to win would gain you $1300.

An unknown 31 year-old welterweight from Preston, England with a record of 34-1(16)KO, Jennings is the longest of longshots. But he says for obvious reasons he doesn’t listen to the fans and the writers who say that he is a sacrificial lamb that will be bludgeoned by the Puerto Rican destroyer.

“In my own mind I have to think positively that I’ll beat him,” said Jennings on Tuesday afternoon. “I’m a mentally strong person and every fighter that I watch, I think, yes, I could beat him no matter who it is.”

For Jennings this is his first world title fight, his first fight outside of the United Kingdom and his first time on the world boxing stage. However, he claims he is not letting any of that get to him.

“I don’t pay any attention to the whole scene,” he says. “I don’t have any pressure on me at all because the American public doesn’t know me and they haven’t seen me fight. Most of you guys are probably just expecting me to get blasted out of the ring. But I’m coming to put on a good show and I’m coming to win.”

While Jennings is meeting a Miguel Cotto who is returning from his first loss, he is also meeting a fighter that is ranked as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers in the world who has 26 knockouts in 32 career wins. Jennings knows the task in front of him is an enormous one.

Jennings is hoping he'll be doing this same pose on Saturday night after the fight against Cotto is over.

“Obviously I’ve got to do everything right and I’ve got to do everything I’m good at,” he says. “I don’t want to go into too much detail with you, because it could all change. You have plans in your mind about what you’re going to do in the ring - you have to have plan A, B, C, D, E. You’ve just got to keep changing, in that sense, however the fight is taking place. But obviously I’m just going to do whatever I’m good at.”

What those who have seen Jennings say that he is good at is throwing a straight left jab, coming forward while actively throwing punches and being up on his toes. Jennings is a busy fighter that likes to throw punches and likes to make the fight and he has a height and reach advantage over Cotto. Jennings knows this is his ‘Rocky Balboa-like’ shot of a lifetime and he’s looking to make the most of it.

“Cotto is a brilliant boxer and I know that,” he says. “But he’s not the biggest welterweight in the world either,” rationalizes Jennings who has fought his entire career as a welterweight. “This is the pinnacle of my career, without a doubt. It’s the best moment in my career as a boxer. When I was an amateur, to think that I was going to end up fighting here in New York at Madison Square Garden? Unbelievable. This is the Mecca of boxing.”

One thing is for sure, is that if Jennings does manage to do the impossible and upset Cotto on Saturday night he would return home to England a hero akin to Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton.

“If I win this fight it would be absolutely brilliant,” he says. “This is the pinnacle of my career. To come over here and win this fight and take the belt home with me would be absolutely brilliant.”

February 2009

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