Heavyweight Bryant Jennings, idle since 2015, signs with Top Rank

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has not dabbled much in the heavyweight division in recent years, but he does co-promote world titleholder Joseph Parker and contender Andy Ruiz Jr. Now Arum has added another big man to his stable, signing former world title challenger Bryant Jennings.

"We can do some decent business with him," Arum told ESPN on Monday. "We're going to build him back up, and we think he's competitive with guys like Joseph Parker, Andy Ruiz and maybe even [world titleholder] Anthony Joshua -- although Joshua looked pretty awesome against [Wladimir] Klitschko, even though he was in trouble for a little while. Jennings, when he gets back in the saddle, fits in with guys like that."

Jennings (19-2, 10 KOs), 32, of Philadelphia, has lost two fights in a row and been out of the ring since suffering a seventh-round knockout loss against Luis "King Kong" Ortiz in an interim world title fight in December 2015. In the fight before that, Jennings lost a unanimous decision while challenging then-world champion Klitschko, but he was as competitive with Klitschko as anyone had been in many years.

"I'm the best-conditioned heavyweight in boxing, and my ultimate goal is to win a world title for Bob Arum at Top Rank. He deserves it," said Jennings, who is vegan. "And being with Top Rank means I will get an opportunity to fight for a world title. I have the strength, desire and the smartness in the ring to get that world title. This is such an opportunity for me being with Top Rank."

Arum said Jennings' first bout with the company will take place on the undercard of unified junior welterweight world champion Terence Crawford's next fight later this summer.

The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Jennings, who did not begin boxing until he was 24 and had only 17 amateur bouts, signed his contract on Wednesday, but Arum said he held off on making it public so as not to do anything to look like he was trying to interrupt the promotion of the Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev rematch that took place on Saturday night in Las Vegas.

"I thought [Jennings] did very well with Klitschko, but more than that, he's a pleasure to be around," Arum said. "He's a real credit to boxing. He's the kind of guy that I think can do well and do well for boxing. He's like an all-around guy."

Making a deal was not difficult, Arum said, because he has a long-standing relationship with James Prince, who co-manages Jennings with attorney Josh Dubin. They also manage Ward and 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson, who also is with Top Rank.

"James Prince and Josh Dubin understood what we're going to do for Jennings, and they didn't gouge us," Arum said. "We're looking forward to a long and good relationship with him."

During Jennings' layoff, his promotional deal with Gary Shaw came to an end. He remains co-promoted by Antonio Leonard.

"With Top Rank, Bryant Jennings will become the face of the American heavyweights. He is that great," Leonard said. "Bryant's ultimate goal is to get a world heavyweight championship for Bob Arum and Top Rank"

Dubin offered his take.

"I am thrilled that Bryant has a chance to reignite his career with such a talented team at Top Rank," Dubin said. "They know how to position Bryant for another run at the heavyweight world title. James and I are confident that Bryant will indeed be world champion with Top Rank leading the way."