At least Wladimir Klitschko's assessment of his performance was refreshing, even if his unanimous decision over Bryant Jennings Saturday night at Madison Square Garden was frustrating for its absence of heavyweight thrills.
Klitschko admitted his first visit to the United States in seven years did little to excite or win over more American fans. "I would say an impressive knockout is going to be a better answer for this question," he said. "I need to impress the audience with my performance. I wish to win impressively, and the best win is by TKO or KO. We didn't see it tonight.
"But the Klitschko story continues. There is a lot of games in soccer or American football, and sometimes they are real exciting and sometimes not . . . This one belongs to the ones that were not as exciting as probably a lot of fans were expecting. But a win is a win."
Klitschko improved his record to 64-3 but failed to add to his total of 53 KOs primarily because Philadelphia's Jennings (19-1, 10 KOs) seemed more intent on going the distance than going for the upset.
Jennings was tight early when Klitschko was able to pile up points with a jab-right hand combination, but as he grew more comfortable, the challenger used his athleticism to lunge at Klitschko as a means of getting inside his jab.
However, the result most often was a clinch in which the 6-6 Klitschko held while Jennings tried to bang away with body punches. It was an awkward dance, and referee Michael Griffin ultimately deducted a point from Klitschko in the 10th round. But Jennings failed to capitalize in what every judge scored as a 9-9 round.
Newsday's card concurred with the 116-111 scores of judges Robin Taylor and Steve Weisfeld, and judge Max DeLuca scored it 118-109 for Klitschko. Jennings' strongest rounds were in the sixth and then in the seventh, when he rocked Klitschko with a right uppercut. But mostly it was a case of him coming in low, covering up with his long arms and not throwing punches aggressively enough to put Klitschko in any danger.
"Honestly, Bryant Jennings was really, really mobile and was really tough to hit," Klitschko said. "I couldn't find the right distance to land the punch I wanted to land. The punches I threw unfortunately hit his arms, his defense. Unfortunately, I didn't defend as impressively as I usually do."
Still, the 39-year-old champion recorded his 18th straight successful defense of his WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles and extended his current championship reign to just over nine years, second in history to Joe Louis.
Next up for Klitschko is a mandatory defense of his WBO title against undefeated British heavyweight Tyson Fury (24-0, 18 KOs). No date has been set, but the bout is expected to take place in England or Germany.
Jennings asked for a rematch after the bout, but Klitschko ruled it out. "I don't think there's a chance for a rematch because this fight was not really competitive enough for a rematch," Klitschko said. "There was no drama. I don't think rematch will happen."
If Klitschko gets his wish, he could return to America as soon as next year for a unification bout against WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, who holds the belt that belonged for many years to Klitschko's older brother, Vitali.
"I want to see you back here in the States," Klitschko said. "We talked about Wilder and a unification fight. Who knows if our ways are going to cross? Deontay has to defend his title sometime this summer. Then we're going to see each other again here on U.S. soil, and I will be pleased to fight back here in the United States."