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Heavyweight Bryant Jennings training at OTC ahead of return to ring

July 31, 2017 Updated: July 31, 2017 at 8:46 pm
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Bryant Jennings fights Wladimir Klitschko, of Ukraine, right, during the fourth round of a boxing match Saturday, April 25, 2015, at Madison Square Garden in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

After 20 months, Bryant Jennings is ready.

It’s been a long time since the former title contender climbed into the boxing ring.
Following back-to-back defeats and promotional issues, Jennings opted to take a break from the sport.

On Aug. 19, Jennings (19-2) is stepping back in to fight Daniel Martz (15-4-1) at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska, on the undercard of Terence Crawford’s attempt to unify the super lightweight titles against Julius Indongo.

“I’ve been asking for a fight like this for years,” Jennings said Monday ahead of a training session at the Olympic Training Center.

Jennings, Crawford and 2016 silver medalist Shakur Stevenson are training in Colorado Springs ahead of the Aug. 19 card.

Jennings last lost when he was stopped in the seventh round by Cuban southpaw and undefeated fighter Luis Ortiz for the interim WBA heavyweight title in December 2015.

Since then, he’s been out of boxing circles.

“Man, the boxing business. The boxing business gives you the long layoff,” he said. “There were plenty of other reasons why I had the layoff that had nothing to do with me. I had promotional issues. I think it was the political things.”

Jennings was previously promoted by Gary Shaw, but that deal ended during Jennings’ layoff. He signed with Top Rank in June.

On Monday, Jennings sparred at the OTC in his first Colorado Springs camp. Last summer he helped out as a sparring partner for the bigger American fighters training for the Rio Games.

He’s adapting quickly.

“The altitude right now doesn’t bother me because I’ve quickly adjusted,” he said. “I still feel something. … Your lungs hurt when they’re expanding, that means it’s working. So that’s a good thing.”

In 2015, he also lost to then-champion Wladimir Klitschko, falling in a unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden.

Jennings, 32, is still young in the fight game. The Philadelphia native didn’t start fighting until he was 24. He will also have had exactly 20 months off between fights when he steps into the ring in Lincoln.

“My camp’s been challenging, basically because I’ve been off for so long,” Jennings said. “I haven’t been in there in a while; I wonder how it’s going to be. But when I express myself through my workouts it feels good. It doesn’t feel like I missed out.”

Jennings’ fight is slated to air on ESPN.

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