It was a wasted night in Birmingham for Washington. For clarity it was expected to be a barn burner while it lasted as WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder made his fifth defense of his title against unheralded Gerald Washington in Alabama last night. On paper the two giants matched up evenly in all aspects of the game except experience.
The 6’7” champion entered ring sans robe weighing 222 lbs. His challenger another behemoth standing one inch shorter but tipping scales at 239 well distributed pounds.
The added weight gave better balance to well defined muscular legs. Deontay is imposing to behold but has spindly basketball player legs for such a muscle bound athlete. The champion hails from native Alabama and at 31 years old believes he is ready to step up to title unifications against Joseph Parker and the winner of the April match between Anthony Joshua and Wlad Klitschko. Last night he upped his record to a formidable 38-0, 37 KO’s. While the number is startling he has barely scratched the surface of quality in the division instead adding to the plethora of unknown fighters to his resume. Washington who hails from California saw his record dip to 18-1-1, 12 KO’s and at 34 he has no time to lose up righting his career.
Ok, this review will be officially over before I knock back my first rock glass of Café’ Patron. This was an interesting fight to handicap this past week as both contestants are terribly flawed for two main event fighters on the world stage. I passed on it to give coverage of Adrien Broner’s gift decision last week and advanced insights to upcoming mega match of Gennady Golovkin Vs Danny Jacobs in one month.
“Bomb-Squad” Wilder has a reputation for taking all his opponents out, but his entire dossier is suspect with nary a recognizable name on it. “The Black Rooster” Washington fought a couple of credible foes who were past their prime. Evenly matched as both their flaws were mirror images of each other.
Both orthodox fighters lead with their exposed chins inviting leather from any direction to introduce itself. Both men obviously skipped “Boxing 101” when they first entered the gym. I have been puzzled why Wilder’s trainer Mark Breland hasn’t improved one single amateurish flaw the champion possess? Both men hold their guard dangerously low in an unorthodox manner that often sits just above the waistline. Both men have terrible balance and can only stand erect with legs displayed four feet apart.
To upset either fighter from coming forward and throwing punches you need only to double jab their pathetic defense and make them step backwards. Both fighters faces expressed calculation every time before they let their telegraphed hands go. Both boxers acted like throwing a double jab would get them disqualified. Both fighters seemed clueless what to do after following a measured jab with a straight right hand. Both fighters have a poor sense of setting up a left hook and occasionally winged one without shooting it off the jab first. The concept of combinations is a wasted word in their boxing vocabulary. When Wilder does throw one usually when he staggers a foe he resembles a new born colt flailing away trying to rise to his feet for the first time. Even though Gerald won the first four rounds rather easily I don’t recall seeing one combination.
Round one: The boxers circle throwing an occasional jab in a quest to judge distance. Wilder is surprised that his adversary is quicker on the draw. The champion back steps giving up real estate in order to figure out the challenger. Not much happening as Gerald throws a couple of right hands and easily steals an uneventful round. Washington: 10/9
Round two: More of the same. Washington the aggressor as both flat footed giants let their telegraphed one/twos go with caution. Washington again pushes forward without much volume and Deontay obliges. Washington: 10 / 9
Round three: Deontay now aware that he has back peddled away from taking first two stanzas has decided to hold his ground and clinch instead electing to tie his man up. Several times the champion tries to shoulder roll his foe to the floor in unsuccessful bids. For a moment here Washington is on cruise control and winning rounds by simply committing to the one/two with conviction. Once again he forces Deontay to give ground and once again he steals an uneventful round. By now watching former great Larry Holmes ringside with wife Diane is more fascinating than the match itself. Washington: 10/9
Round four: Washington is content to keep to what’s working and hasn’t varied his attack or approach. While the action is a tad more even Wilder lets, it slip from his grasp in last thirty seconds where the challenger remembers to step forward behind the stick and drive the champion on to his heels. Washington: 10/9
Round five: After thirty seconds of non-involvement it appears evident that “The Black Rooster” has lost focus. At the half way mark, I commented to gents around me that he was giving this much needed round away for no particular reason as the champion had still failed to manage one single convincing flurry. As champions do, Wilder seized up the break in action. He used the lull in momentum to regroup and stage an unsuspecting trap on Washington who appeared to bore himself. The champion pushed forward with several jabs backing up his challenger who appeared to look like a deer in head lights as to what was about to unfold.
With his back to the ropes Washington seemed already unable to defend himself as the champ unleashed a telephone pone jab that caught Gerald’s chin and had him prone for a split second. Wilder moved his body forward minimizing distance and fired a razor crisp right hand whose arch traveled from only 18 inches out and caught his prey perfectly between the crosshairs on the chin. As he lurched forward to canvas Wilder missed the coup de gras of a left hook that just missed putting the exclamation point on what would be the stoppage combination. The challenger rose on unsteady legs and referee Mike Griffin stopped the fight.
Post-fight Washington admitted to losing focus in a bout he knew he was winning. While “Bomb Squad” fans rejoiced like he was still a rising contender on a mission to the title the fact is he was once again undressed and terribly exposed. Deontay has been blessed to make bank and secure the defense to guarantee a comfortable retirement one day. Nicest gent you’ll ever meet but he’ll never become icon nor legend.
The WBC champ wisely is aiming for Parker’s WBO title first in a quest to make himself a multi belt owner which would give him more bargaining clout in future negotiations with IBF champion Anthony Joshua.
Early prediction by your’s truly: Joshua by ten count in five.
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