Wladimir Klitschko, who has ruled the heavyweight division for nearly a decade, was expected to wipe the floor with the neophyte Bryant Jennings, who only began boxing at the age of 24. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when Jennings went the distance with Klitschko, getting in more clean punches than any Klitschko opponent in recent memory. Klitschko struggled to get off with his punches early, thanks to the tight guard, frequent head movement, and hard body punches of Jennings.
The biggest story of the fight was the series of warnings and an eventual point deduction from the referee for--you guessed it--Klitschko's frequent clinching and holding. It must be said that Jennings contributed to the clinching by leading with his head and stumbling into Klitschko's chest, but no one would disagree that Klitschko's had a point deduction of this kind coming for many years now. The deduction may have actually improved Klitschko's performance later in the fight, as he let his hands go more and connected with some crushing straight rights. To his immense credit, Bryant Jennings only appeared to be staggered once, and refused to go down despite the heavy punishment he incurred later in the bout.
Overall, it was a fun showing from a much-maligned champion. As it turns out, better opponents make for better Klitschko fights.
Wladimir Klitschko defeats Bryant Jennings by Unanimous Decision (116-111 x 2, 118-109)
Bad Left Hook scored it 116-111 for Klitschko.
Earlier, on the undercard, Sadam Ali had a tougher-than-expected time with the hard-nosed Francisco Santana. Ali stunned Santana early in the second round with a powerful uppercut, but Santana quickly recouped and renewed his assault, ending the round with a series of hard, clean punches in the corner. For the rest of the fight, Ali and Santana fought a battle of space and movement, Ali desperately trying to move away and to the side, and Santana desperately fighting to stay in front of him and maintain the pressure.
Ultimately, Ali won, though certainly not as impressively as he did against Luis Carlos Abregu in November. It was a close fight that, if it had to go one way or the other, Ali should have won, so no issues with the verdict, though judge Alan Rubenstein had an absolutely absurd scorecard, giving Ali every single round in a back-and-forth fight. That little slice of incompetence cast a pall over an otherwise fun fight.
Sadam Ali defeats Francisco Santana by Unanimous Decision (97-93 x 2, 100-90)
Bad Left Hook scored it 95-95, a draw