It's easy to write off challenger Bryant Jennings as the next in a long line of victims on the record of linear heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, whose 63-3 record includes 53 KOs.
In fact, Jennings' promoter, Gary Shaw, said, "That's how we got the fight. They think it's just another guy.''
But Jennings (19-0, 10 KOs) has been talking a good game, and he swears he will back it up against Klitschko Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in a show televised by HBO. Welterweights Sadam Ali (21-0, 13 KOs) of Brooklyn and Francisco Santana (22-3-1, 11 KOs) are featured on the undercard.
It's not a matter of psyching himself up to face "Dr. Steelhammer,'' said Jennings, who began boxing only six years ago.
"This confidence has been here since the beginning,'' Jennings said. "This is something I was born to do. I came to the game with a lot of things you couldn't teach. I don't have to psych myself up. This is my core. This is the real thing.''
Klitschko will make his 27th appearance in a heavyweight title fight, tying a record set by Joe Louis, and will try to extend his streak of 17 straight successful title defenses over a span of nine years since he regained the title from Chris Byrd on April 22, 2006. Only Louis held the title for a longer uninterrupted period, setting the record at 11 years, eight months and eight days.
"I don't think about it,'' Klitschko said. "Not because I don't want to jinx it. I just know it's a long way to go. There's so much that can happen in life and in the boxing ring. I'm far away from reaching it.''
Knowing he was stopped in his three losses earlier in his career, Klitschko takes nothing for granted. The fact that Klitschko's last loss came 11 years ago against Lamon Brewster is evidence to Jennings that he can't go in thinking the champion's chin is vulnerable.
"Each loss came in a different time frame, and each time, he's learned from it,'' Jennings said. "He hasn't shown much of a wrinkle since then. I'm not Ross Puritty or Corrie Sanders or Lamon Brewster. I'm Bryant Jennings. So this will be the new blueprint.''
Asked if that means he plans to box and stay away from Klitschko's thunderous right hand, Jennings said, "You've got to stay away from everybody's right. He's got to watch out for me, too.''
Shaw said he plans to ask the referee before the fight not to allow the 6-6, 241.6-pound Klitschko to hold or to lean on the 6-3, 226.8-pound Jennings.
"I've seen situations where he's trying to get close just to hold,'' Jennings said. "He doesn't want to punch.''
Klitschko's 53 KO victims might disagree.