In a classic matchup of boxer vs. puncher, two undefeated Philadelphia heavyweights have agreed to move up into the spotlight and put their perfect records on the line Saturday, Jan. 21 at Philadelphia's legendary Asylum Arena on the inaugural broadcast of the NBC Sports Network's "Fight Night" boxing series. Coverage on the NBC Sports Network begins at 9 p.m. ET.
The cross-town matchup will pit Maurice "Freight Train" Byarm and Bryant "Bye Bye" Jennings in the 10-round co-main event. Byarm and Jennings will risk their undefeated records and their neighborhood pride as each takes on the role of a real life "Rocky" and steps into the ring on short notice. The originally scheduled main event, featuring heavyweights Eddie Chambers and Sergei Liakhovich, was scrapped when Chambers revealed on Friday that he had suffered two broken ribs in training.
"This series is about giving the fans exciting, action-packed fights where the outcome is in doubt," said promoter Kathy Duva of Main Events. "It is truly a shame that Chambers and Liakhovich cannot fight on Saturday, but athletes get injured. We tried all weekend to find a suitable replacement to face Liakhovich, but truly competitive opposition could not be found on such short notice. Last night we decided that it would be in the best interests of the fans and the series to go in another direction and present a fight that will live up to the standards that we have set for this project. We are thrilled to have come up with such a compelling bout. The fans in Philadelphia and those watching on TV will have plenty to cheer about on Saturday night."
In addition, the televised card also will feature a battle between two exciting young undefeated light heavyweight prospects, Damar Singleton and Sullivan Barrera.
"I often hear people say that there are no American Heavyweights," said Russell Peltz of Peltz Boxing, matchmaker for the NBC Sports Network "Fight Night" Series. "We are presenting a terrific fight on Saturday night at the Asylum between two promising American heavyweights who are willing to test themselves sooner rather than later."
The prototypical Philly fighter, Jennings is a boxer-puncher who rarely misses a day at the gym. A mechanic at the Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, Jennings was an all-around athlete who played football and basketball, ran the 200 meters and participated in the shot put at Ben Franklin High. The 27-year old father of 4-year old Mason played basketball at North Philly recreation centers for years before he decided to try boxing. In 2009, he reached the finals of the PAL Nationals and the U.S. Golden Gloves Tournament. In his most recent outing in November, Jennings (11-0, 5 KO's) KO'd Kevin Franklin in just one round.
A heavy handed southpaw who is known for scoring spectacular knockouts, Byarm (13-0-1, 9 KO's) is a Philly native who currently resides in Washington, D.C. where he trains with Barry Hunter. "They call Byarm "Freight Train" for a reason," Peltz said. "He will be coming forward all night." According to Byarm's promoter, Greg Cohen of Greg Cohen Promotions, "Maurice has the tools and the personality to become a major force in the heavyweight division. His style is reminiscent of a young Mike Tyson and with a little more seasoning, I expect Maurice to be a future Heavyweight Champion!"
The son of Lionel Byarm, who was best known for making Evander Holyfield's pro debut the best fight of the night when they faced off in Madison Square Garden in 1984, the younger Byarm became interested in boxing after watching Vitali Klitschko fight Chris Byrd in 2000 because he was certain that he could beat both of them. Byarm's only loss as an amateur came to Tyson Fury in a USA vs. Ireland International Amateur Tournament in Philadelphia in 2005. He turned pro in 2009.
"I am really excited to get the chance to show what I can do on national television," Jennings said about the sudden turn of events. "I've wanted to fight Byarm for a long time. I'm not worried about dealing with a southpaw. This is a perfect match for me."
Byarm expressed his good fortune in returning to fight in his hometown, "I am so excited to be coming home to Philadelphia and fighting in front of my parents and so many friends and family. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and I plan on making the most of it."
In the 10-round co-main event, Philadelphia's Gabriel Rosado (18-5, 10 KO's) will take on tough Jesus Soto Karass (24-6-2, 16 KO's) of Los Mochis, Mexico in what promises to be an all action bout. Singleton (7-0, 3 KO's) will face the explosive Barrera (8-0, 6 KO's) in a six-round match.