Interview: Philly’s B.Y. Jennings to fight former WBO Heavyweight Champion!
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (March 5, 2012) Doghouse Boxing
Bryant “B.Y. Jennings
Bryant "B.Y." Jennings (Above)
Bryant & Grandmother, Annette Jennings
Bryant "B.Y." Jennings & Grandmother, Annette Jennings
It has been reported by Main Events that former WBO champion Sergei Liakhovich will face Bryant “B.Y. Jennings in New York on March 24th at the Aviator Complex in Brooklyn, NY.

“B.Y.” Jennings was known for his football abilities when playing at Ben Franklin H.S. in Philadelphia. Jennings just won his 12th fight and captured the Pennsylvania Heavyweight Title defeating Maurice “Freight Train” Byarm, 13-0-1, of Philadelphia on January 21st.

As his promoter J Russell Peltz puts it: “Determined, athletic, smart, finds a way to win. Always in the gym and that’s why he took the Byarm fight on short notice.” He had a short amateur career at 14-3 but fought some top competition in Lenroy Thompson (USA Olympian and now with L.A. Matadors), Craig Lewis (2008 National Champ now with the Miami Gallos), Javier Torres (2-time Jr Olympic champ and 2008 Mexican Olympian), David Latoria (now 9-0), Joey Dawejko (now 6-0 and 2008 Jr World Champion) and Mark Rideout (PA GG Champ). He reached the finals in the 2009 P.A.L. and Golden Glove tournaments. “Has a good trainer and good team of people behind him,” added Peltz. Fred Jenkins, his son Fred Jr., James “Jun” Walker, and Jerome Jackson are the team per Jennings.

Fellow Philadelphian “Fast Eddie” Chambers was injured in sparring postponing his main event fight. On 5 day notice both Jennings and Byarm agreed to join the card for the main event. Though neither boxer had gone beyond 6 rounds they agreed to a 10 round bout for the state title. They did not disappoint the fans. Fighting a southpaw in Byarm was not easy. The officials had it 97-93 and 96-94 twice. I had it a draw with Jennings taking the last round. I felt he was the better of the two at the end skill wise.

I was able to interview him at the ABC Recreation Center at 26th & Master Streets in Philly through his trainer/manager Fred Jenkins. “We are not going backwards we’re going forward,” said Jenkins. He was referring to staying at the 10 round level in his next bout April 14th at Bally’s Event Center in Atlantic City, NJ, where Jennings will headline with an opponent that has not be named yet.

“I will have 8 weeks to prepare for my next fight with Liakovich. My trainer Fred Jenkins and I feel it is a great opportunity. Even though I am always in the gym I look forward to all that time to prepare,” said Jennings. Growing up some of his favorites were Evander Holyfield, Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders and on top Jay-Z. He threw me a curve with the last one that he said is his favorite.

Bryant “B.Y. Jennings
Bryant "B.Y." Jennings and Son, Mason.
“I had a house (next to his Grandmother Annette Jennings) in Bryn-Mawr before I started fighting,” said Jennings. He is a mechanic at the Federal Reserve Bank. He also has a 4-year old son Mason. He is smart enough to know this can be a short lived career as a heavyweight and few leave the game with much more than when they started.

Jennings made his debut in February of 2010 defeating Zeferino Albino, 3-9-2, winning all 4 rounds at the South Philly Arena. “I wanted the experience and didn’t try for a knockout,” said Jennings. In his next fight he got his first knockout in stopping Jon Bolden, 1-0, in the second round at the legendary Blue Horizon. He would have a rematch with Albino next who was filling in as a substitute. This time Albino was down 3 times in the first round and out.

“Bernell Stewart, 1-1 (0), was a top GG boxer in 2006,” said Jennings. Stewart defeated then 5-1 Dwayne McRae in his first fight. Jennings won all 4 rounds. He traveled out of Philly for the first time in easily stopping Randy Smith at the Prudential Center, Newark, NJ, finishing the year with 5 wins.

In February of 2011 Jennings made his Atlantic City debut in defeating Theron Johnson, 5-3, winning all 6 rounds. In July he had Johnson down in the fourth round winning all 6 rounds again but this time in Las Vegas, NV, at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. After the first Johnson fight he beat fellow Philly fighter David Williams, 6-3-1, at Caesars, in Atlantic City. “He came into our gym to scout me out and said he would take the fight,” said Jennings. He dropped Williams twice in the second round and the ring physician stopped it after the round.

The experienced Alexis Mejas, 11-7, marked Jennings return to Philly after 5 fights on the road. “I got stunned in the first round,” said Jennings. He came back to drop Mejas in the third winning every round after the first. It was his fourth appearance at the Arena now named the Asylum Arena in Philly.

Jennings would end the year in November with an easy win over Kevin Franklin, 3-3, when the latter’s corner threw the towel in. “I figured when I hurt him it was better to finish him,” said Jennings. This was at Bally’s in Atlantic City and stopped at 1:51 of the first round. That was 6-0 in 2011 bringing his record to 11-0 with 5 knockouts.

“I understand Byarm was scheduled to fight the week after we took the fight,” said Jennings. Byarm’s father is Lionel Byarm who fought Evander Holyfield in the future champion’s first bout. It would be telecast over the NBC Sports Network Fight Night’s debut by Main Events in Association with Peltz Boxing. This was a heavyweight fight that was interesting from the opening bell.

Jennings took a 3-1 lead on all 3 judge’s score cards before Byarm started to go to the body. “He punched well to the body but you can see my mid-section was tight,” said Jennings. Whenever Byarm was against the ropes it was all Jennings landing combinations to both the body and head. Byarm was much better in the middle of the ring using his jab and uppercuts.

At the end of 7 rounds all 3 judges had it 4-3 with one having Byarm ahead. Jennings took the eighth round on all score cards as well as 2 of the 3 judge’s scores in the ninth. Going into the tenth and final round, Jennings was ahead on 2 of the scorecards by 1 point and by 3 on the other. He took the final round landing more punches than Byarm. “I lost the fight in the last two rounds not doing enough,” said Byarm.

It’s rare when two top prospects meet at this early stage of their careers. Peltz could take the credit for that coming about. Byarm had informed this writer after one of his fights in DC where he trains out of under Adrian Davis that he wanted to fight in Philly. It was a match that probably would be made sooner or later down the road. Two young heavyweights with neither having a bout scheduled for more than six rounds was a chance Peltz was taking and it paid off. Both fighters should be commended for agreeing to fight one another especially on short notice.

Philly has Chazz Witherspoon who just improved his record to 30-2 last Saturday who was the first to greet Jennings coming out of the ring after the Byarm fight. Witherspoon is a cousin to former Philly 2-time world heavyweight champion “Terrible” Tim Witherspoon. Chazz talks about fighting at the St. Joe’s Fieldhouse someday where he graduated. Who knows a year or so from now it might be Jennings vs Witherspoon there. Seems Jenkins has bigger plans for Jennings.

“If one of the world champions would give us a fight we’d take it as long as we had 8 weeks to prepare. We’re learning as we go along. If they ready this and want to prove us wrong we’re ready to sign on the dotted line now,” said Jenkins. Another Philly fighter whose injury brought about the chance for Jennings in that last fight is Chambers who though ranked No. 1 has had his chance at the title and is hoping for another.

With the passing of “Smokin” Joe Frazier near the end of 2011 wouldn’t it be great for the city of Brotherly Love to have a future world heavyweight champion again? Now it’s the Pennsylvania title. The USBA and NABF are now within reach for Jennings. He seems to improve with each fight and it’s just a matter of time now that he will be again headlining in his next fight before that “chance of a lifetime” comes when the ring announcer proclaims “in this corner challenging for the heavyweight title from Philadelphia is the unbeaten B.Y. Jennings!”

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