Michael Jennings, Does He Have A Shot Against Cotto?

by James Slater - The fight is by no means set in stone yet, but a number of ultra-reliable sources are suggesting Britain's once-beaten welterweight Michael Jennings might be Miguel Cotto's opponent in February. Promoter Frank Warren has discussed the fight with British Boxing News and there seems a good chance 31-year-old Jennings, 33-1(16) will land the kind of big fight he's always wanted..

Taking the liberty of taking the fight as a go for the purposes of this article, what kind of chance would the young-looking welterweight have against the man from Puerto Rico? It's well known that Jennings is NOT well known over in America where, of course, most people reading this very web site are from, but this does not make him a bad fighter. Many fans have already pointed to two fights when saying what they feel a Cotto-Jennings fight would be like. Either February will see another Pavlik-Lockett type of affair, or we will get a fight not altogether dissimilar to Cotto's brutalising of the overmatched Alfonso Gomez.

Well, begging these fans' pardon, Michael Jennings is being seriously undervalued. Slick, ultra-fit, experienced at a good level and hungry and determined, Jennings is a fighter who can fight at a great pace for all 12 rounds. A big puncher he may not be, but he has all the other basic tools of the trade mastered and in his possession. His critics also point to his sole loss, which came in January of 2006 and on points to Young Mutley. What these critics might not know is the fact that an overanxious Jennings actually over-trained for that fight and was almost running on empty in the last few rounds as a result. Yet still the 31-year-old, then the defending British welterweight champion, almost won, going down via a close split decision in the end.

The over-training thing is no idle excuse, either. Michael's fine trainer, the been-there, seen-that Brian Hughes told this writer in person how his charge was, unbeknown to him, sneaking into the gym at night after all the real work had been done. If anything, Jennings' desire and attitude should perhaps be commended, even though his overtime ultimately cost him the fight. But enough of Jennings' loss, let's look at some of his excellent wins.

I've written above how Jennings is no big puncher, but tell that to Jimmy Vincent. Stopped inside the very first round when meeting Jennings for the vacant British belt at 147-pounds in July of 2005, Vincent was completely blown away, Then there's Michael's points win over the hard-hitting Welshman, Bradley Pryce. Pryce, who would go on to stop the talented Anthony Small up at light-middleweight (the only man to beat the flashy Small), was beaten over 12-rounds in a great action fight in October of the same year. Yes, Jennings was down in the 1st round, perhaps showing a little vulnerability as a slow starter, but he showed real heart to come back, get the win and keep his title.

Since then, Jennings has seen off both Takaloo and Ross "The Boss" Minter, while also picking up a couple of tune-up type victories also. Now waiting for the official word that he will indeed be meeting his biggest named foe yet in Cotto, the smart boxer who is nicknamed "The Lurcher" will be making sure he keeps himself in tip-top shape as he always does. It's possible Jennings may box again before tackling Cotto, most likely in November, but he will be sharp as a tack for next February either way.

Coming back from a brutal beating at the hands of Antonio Margarito as he is, Miguel Cotto had better not think he will be in with a soft touch in his very first comeback fight. Michael Jennings, big name or not, is far from that.

Article posted on 17.10.2008

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