SAN DIEGO, February 25, 2017 – Deontay Wilder proved in the heavyweight division, it only takes one punch to win a fight.
Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs) scored a fifth round TKO over Gerald Washington of Vallejo, California (18-1, 12 KOs) retaining his WBC heavyweight title to the delight of his hometown fans at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
For the first few rounds of the bout, those fans were holding their breath. Washington was getting the better of Wilder in the first few rounds, controlling the distance and scoring nicely with his left jab and timely body shots. Wilder looked slow and rusty. Observers had to wonder whether Wilder was concerned about his right hand, broken in his previous fight. He said prior to the bout he wouldn’t really know how it was doing “until I put fist to face.”
Wilder found out in the fifth round. He landed nine power punches after landing just 11 total in the first four rounds combined (11 punches). One was a devastating short right hand placed perfectly on Washington’s temple. Wilder connected on a follow-up left and another right, but the first punch did all the damage.
Washington got to his feet on unsteady legs. Wilder moved in, throwing big punches to try and close the show. Wilder landed several, tossing Washington’s head around. He had little to offer. Referee Mike Griffin made a first attempt to step in and stop the fight, but then backed out. Seconds later, he stepped in again and ended the fight at 1:45 of the fifth round. Although the stoppage was a little messy, it was the right call. When you have one punch power like Wilder, you don’t mess around testing it on a fighter who is hurt.
Wilder said, “What an amazing show this was, what an amazing show we had. We’re all gentlemen in here. Some of us have to lose but after, we can love each other and we can hug each other. That’s what it’s all about.”
Wilder said he knew he needed to keep calm and find his rhythm while waiting for Washington to tire himself out. “I knew he was going to tire out, and when he did I took advantage. It was all about timing. I’m very smart in the ring when it comes to using different tactics in the ring.”
After the bout, Washington ruefully admitted he got a little impatient, even though he was winning the first few rounds on many scorecards. “”I was trying to go for it. It was an even boxing match. I could have kept it like that and kept it boring. I don’t know why I fell asleep there. I guess I lost a little focus.
“I caught him with one shot when he was coming in. But instead of me keeping that play going and keep pushing him back and keep him in control by keeping him in the center of the ring, I tried to get on him. I was trying to play a little counter punch role and catch him coming in. He just caught me.
Wilder said to his Alabama fans, “I said I wasn’t goin’ nowhere and I’m still here. Alabama, we’re going to keep them coming, keep fights coming.”
Promoter Lou DiBella arranged for New Zealand heavyweight champion Joseph Parker to sit ringside in Birmingham for the fight. Wilder said, “I’m ready for Joseph Parker. The question is, are they ready for ME? I did my part Joseph Parker. Now it’s time to do yours.” This would be a smart unification fight and one both Wilder and Parker need. Make the fight, and have the winner fight the winner of the April fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, setting up a true heavyweight unification fight.
“Swift” Jarrett Hurd came back from a slow start to win his first championship title with a ninth round stoppage of Tony “Super Bad” Harrison of Detroit. Harrison (24-2, 20 KOs) got off to a good start, boxing and controlling the pace with his experience. Harrison was able to put good combinations together early. Hurd (20-0, 14 KOs) didn’t get anxious and he didn’t panic. He continued to close the distance and he began to find the target, ending the fifth round with several hard shots. It seemed to wake Hurd up, and he went on the hunt, landing power shots on Harrison.
Harrison has a reputation for fading in the later rounds, and it happened again as Hurd continued to put more leather on Harrison. In the ninth round, Hurd landed a crushing clean right hand, knocking Harrison down. It wasn’t clear whether Harrison would be able to get up. When he did, referee Jim Korb checked Harrison’s condition and asked if he wanted to continue. It wasn’t clear whether he said yes, but then he spit out his mouthpiece, and Korb called an end to the fight. It was the right decision.
An emotional Hurd dropped to his knees on the canvas as he realized he had won his first world title, the vacant IBF junior middleweight title relinquished just a week ago by Jermall Charlo. About winning, Hurd said, “It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt before. We knew Tony Harrison was going to be a tough opponent during the first three rounds.”
Hurd needs to work on his skills but he showed patience and calm under fire in Saturday’s bout, and the power is there. He’ll need all the tools in the toolkit to be competitive rising through the ranks of the talented junior middleweight division.
The opening bout had fans jumping off their couches at home in a wild, messy, bombs away fight only the big men of boxing can deliver. After two knockdowns and punishing power punches, 2012 U.S. Olympian and former world title challenger Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 16 KOs) of Los Angeles stopped Poland-born Nigerian Izuagbe Ugonoh (17-1, 14 KOs) in the fifth round of his American debut.
Breazeale needed to redeem himself after his loss to Anthony Joshua. He and Ugonoh delivered so much heart-stopping drama, it was probably a good thing it only lasted five rounds. Ugonoh started off strong with effective body work in the first few rounds. Breazeale was getting his bearings though, and in round three landed a left hook sending Ugonoh to the canvas. Ugonoh recovered nicely, and by the end of the round returned the favor by staggering Breazeale. Ugonoh tried to finish what he started in round four, and it looked like a win was at hand when a hard right knocked Breazeale down. Breazeale survived, but now Breazeale would need a miracle.
He got it, a powerhouse right hand followed up with a left and another right. Ugonoh fell to the canvas through the ropes, Breazeale got the impressive stoppage at 50 seconds of the fifth round.
Yes, truth be told it was a wild, messy fight. Both men made plenty of mistakes. But this fight was nothing but good for boxing with its thrilling action. It’s an early candidate for Fight of the Year, and round three is in the hunt for Round of the Year. Any casual fans who just happened to cross paths with the Fox Sports broadcast and stick around were treated to entertaining heavyweight action. Hopefully they’ll be back for Thurman vs. Garcia next week.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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