In what turned out to be a ho-hum heavyweight attraction, rising British star Joe Joyce claimed a 12-round unanimous decision over former world title challenger Bryant Jennings at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday. The official scores were 118-109, 117-110 and 115-112.
There were no knockdowns and Joyce, an Olympic super heavyweight silver medalist at Rio 2016, was taken the distance for the first time in his career.
“Big respect to Bryant Jennings, he really tested me,” said Joyce (10-0, 9 knockouts) in a post-right interview with BT Sport in the U.K. “I wasn’t worried, but I’m used to getting (opponents) out early I used my toughness to pull through. These fights are good for teaching you a lesson.”
The 34-year-old Jennings did make a statement of intent early, punishing the home fighter for showboating tactics by whipping home a perfect left hook to the liver that an instant effect. That shot probably won the opener for the Philadelphia fighter.
By way of response, Joyce upped the pace from the second round on. He applied plenty of pressure, whereas Jennings played it cute, looking to clip his man with the jab and quick counters off the back foot.
A nice right hand from the American in the fourth prompted Joyce to open up with a sustained two-fisted attack to head and body. By this point in the fight, the Londoner was successfully banking rounds with volume rather than clean effective punching.
There were times when Jennings (24-4, 14 KOs) made Joyce look ordinary with swift precision hitting, but he wasn’t doing it often enough. By the midway point the bout had taken on the feel of a sparring session and the crowd were silent for long periods.
A strong surge from Jennings in the ninth and 10th was undone by a point deduction for a low blow and the championship rounds were quiet. On the plus side, Joyce moves on after defeating the most distinguished opponent of his career to date.
Tom Gray is Associate Editor for Ring Magazine. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing
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