SAN DIEGO, Calif., Augsut 17, 2018 – Boxing cards on hot summer weekends have many similarities to a great summer beach book. Like the readers hitting the sand, boxing fans are looking for something fun, action-packed, and not too complicated. A beach read doesn’t have to be a prize winner to be thoroughly enjoyable. Neither does a summer fight card. It follows that by these criteria, Top Rank Boxing has put together a fight card — Jennings vs. Dimitrenko — that’s sure to entertain on Saturday night in Atlantic City at The Ocean Resort Casino’s Ovation Hall.
The televised portion of the card begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. The entire card will stream live on ESPN+ starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Highlights and firsts
No (significant) titles are at stake, but significant opportunities are. The opponents in the main event hope to get into the championship action in the heavyweight division with a statement victory. American contender Bryant “By-By” Jennings of nearby Philadelphia (23-2, 13 KOs) wants that chance by taking on Alexander “Sascha” Dimitrenko (41-3, 26 KOs) for the IBF International and NABO heavyweight titles in the 12-round main event.
Jennings, one of just a few vegan boxers in the sport, weighed in at 225 pounds. The 6-7 Dimitrenko weighed in at 247 pounds.
This will be the first boxing event at the Ocean Resort Casino, which opened the same weekend as its new neighbor, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in late June. The Hard Rock’s Etess Arena hosted the Kovalev vs. Alvarez card two weeks ago, and was a sellout.
It’s encouraging to see boxing making a comeback in Atlantic City. The venues here let fans get up close for reasonable ticket prices. And after the fights they can hit the casino or the beachfront bars. Bringing hard-hitting heavyweights along with a generous array of veterans and rising stars on the undercard mean all fans should get their money’s worth, whether at the arena or watching the live stream and TV card.
Heavyweights Jennings and Dimitrenko need to show what they’ve got to play with the big boys
Dimitrenko is fighting in the U.S. for the second time in his career. He has been working his way back since a knockout loss to Joseph Parker in October 2016. Dimitrenko’s other losses were to Kubrat Pulev and Eddie Chambers.
Bryant has faced top opposition and while he also has losses, he performed well against Wladimir Klitschko before suffering his only knockout loss to Luis Ortiz, both in 2015. He has been working his way back and now has four wins coming into Saturday’s fight.
Bryant’s bravado is classic Philly, and it’s good to see this likable personality back in the ring. Bryant says he’s got the desire to make his dreams happen. “If you’re not hungry, you don’t eat. And if you don’t eat, then you starve. If you starve, then you die. And I want to live. I’m hungry. Saturday, I’m eating Russian,” said Jennings at this week’s finall news conference.
“I’m expecting him to come out better than he did in his previous fights. I expect him to have the will to win, wanting to establish his name and his legacy.”
Significent stakes in this event
Bryant had hoped to fight Parker, a much bigger name, for bigger stakes. But Bryant says he’s happy to get in the ring, and get a win that will get him closer to where he wants to go. ““Dimitrenko is a big, competitive fighter,” Jennings said. “I worked very hard to gain my position in the heavyweight division. Every fight for me is a risk. While I’m confident in myself, I don’t take any opponent lightly. Boxing fans can expect me to bring my best.”
Dimitrenko has his own appreciation for the opportunity to get in front of an American audience. “I’m 36, and I have big plans,” said Dimitrenko. “I want to win this fight. I look forward to make this fight and to show what I can. It is very important for me to be here, to fight live on ESPN against Jennings. I will do anything to win this fight. I am here to win this fight. I prepared myself very well. It’s an honor to fight here in America. Everybody watching will get a great show. Saturday night can’t come soon enough. I am ready to fight.
Fighting with a home town advantage against an opponent who hasn’t faced the same kind of opposition, Bryant is a significant favorite, and he can’t merely win at this stage of his career. He has to put on a show. All good news for the fans, who get the chance to enjoy an action-packed contest between big men for as long as it lasts.
Regional fighters get the chance to entertain home town fans
In the co-main event on ESPN, another Philadelphia native, Jesse “Hollywood” Hart, (24-1, 20 KOs) will defend the NABF super middleweight title in a 10-round fight against Mike Gavronski (24-2-1, 15 KOs). Hart has been working his way back up the rankings after his first loss to Gilberto Ramirez in 2017. “I never looked at the Ramirez fight as a loss,” said Hart. “I always look at it as a lesson. I’ve raised my IQ of boxing.” Gavronski, a native of Tacoma, Washington, hasn’t fought outside the Pacific Northwest in five years. The biggest names on his resume is Tureano Johnson, who won by unanmous decision over Gavronski in 2014.
Newark, New Jersey native and 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (7-0, 4 KOs), 21, returns to his home state for his first fight as a professional against Carlos Ruiz (16-4-2, 6 KOs), 25, of Mexico, in an eight-round featherweight bout. Stevenson, a top prospect, will be the top fight on the ESPN+ stream. Let’s hope home cooking inspires Stevenson to put on a flashy fight. While he’s undefeated, he’s yet to put on the kind of show most people expect of him.
Also on the streamed undercard, keep your eye on another heavyweight fight on this card, which will air via ESPN+. Oleksandr Teslenko (13-0, 11 KOs), a Ukrainian-born fighter based in Toronto faces Avery Gibson (9-6-4, 3 KOs.) of Los Angeles. Let’s see whether Teslenko has what it takes to play with the big boys in the heavyweight division.
Former WBA super featherweight champion Jason Sosa (20-3-4, 15 KOs) of Camden, New Jersey, will take on Reynaldo Blanco (14-4, 8 KOs). Sosa, who has dropped two in a row, is seeking to get back into contention in the 130-pound division.
Philadelphia fan favorite Christian Carto (15-0, 11 KOs) will square off against Tijuana, Mexico, brawler Javier Gallo (25-15-1, 13 KOs) in an eight-round bantamweight fight.
Local fighter Thomas LaManna (25-2-1, 9 KOs) of Atlantic City looks to extend his five-bout unbeaten streak against Matthew Strode (25-6, 9 KOs) in an eight-round super welterweight bout.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities Digital News (CDN). Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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