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British Boxing Preview: Michael Jennings – Young Mutley

British Champion Jennings must take care take in tricky Mutley defence!

After a rude wake-up call from the rejuvenate Bradley Pryce in his last outing, Chorley’s British Welterweight Champion Michael Jennings will need to be fully focused for a potentially dangerous defence against hard hitting prospect Young Mutley in the chief support to Amir Khan at the Nottingham Arena on Saturday.

The stylish, twenty-eight year old Jennings showed commendable grit in powering back to outpoint Pryce after being floored and seriously shaken in the opening round of an engrossing battle at the Guild Hall in Preston in October. But Michael needs a more authoritative performance against Mutley if he is to convince his doubters that he can progress significantly beyond domestic level.

While a world champion of Scott Harrison’s standing might feel a little irked at being overshadowed by the hype surrounding Khan, Jennings might just be happy to be out of the main spotlight as he attempts to raise his pro record to 29-0 against a talented challenger who can box and punch with authority.

One senses that Michael must go back to doing comes naturally to him and worry less about impressing those who keep urging him to raise the bar and move up to the next level. He is a sublime boxer and a commanding hitter when he is in full flow and his stamina is sound. He has a fine repertoire of punches and mixes up his shots well, but occasionally seems a little too eager to get involved in needless trials of endurance in his effort to catch the eye.

Some fighters take a little longer to mature than others, and Jennings has been moving along at an acceptable rate, gradually adding power to his impressive range of skills. Before his war with Pryce, he was sensational in his first round destruction of perennial tough guy Jimmy Vincent at the Reebok Center in Bolton, having hammered Chris Saunders, Vasile Dragomir and Gavin Down before that.

But the wobble against Pryce certainly raised some questions, and Jennings can’t afford any further struggles at domestic level if he is to fulfil his potential and graduate to European and world class.

In Mutley (alias Lee Woodley), Michael faces a dangerous and competent challenger, who is stepping up in weight as well as class to face the stiffest test of his twenty fight career. Mutley has made excellent strides since dropping a decision to Wahir Fats in his third fight, his only loss to date.

“I’m more of a boxer but I can punch too,” says the twenty-nine year old West Bromwich man, who made his mark with a first round victory over Sammy Smith in 2004 to lift the English light-welterweight crown. Mutley has continued to move up impressively, winning the vacant WBF inter-continental title with a sixth round stoppage of Gavin Down and defending successfully against Oscar Hall.

Like Jennings, Mutley is no spring chicken and needs to keep his foot on the gas at this stage in his career, yet this match looks to be a step too far for the confident Midlander. Nevertheless, if he can keep it competitive, an educational defeat shouldn’t damage his career prospects at all.

Much may depend on how Jennings decides to play it. He certainly has the most to lose and cannot be drawn into a slugfest. After getting caught cold by Pryce, it is likely that Michael will tuck up and keep things tight for a few rounds, weather any early storms and then apply intelligent pressure to wear Mutley down and secure a stoppage any time after the midway point.

About Mike Casey

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