BOXING

Wilder, Hurd, Breazeale Power Their Way to Wins

Two Shots From Deontay Wilder End Gerald Washington’s Upset Bid

Gerald Washington was off to a good start against Deontay Wilder. And then he was brought to a quick end.

Wilder, defending his heavyweight title for the first time after returning from injuries and surgeries, landed a hard right hand followed by left hook, dropping Washington to the canvas in the fifth round. Washington got up quickly, and Wilder closed in with wild haymakers that nonetheless did their job.

Enough of them landed that the referee jumped in, an end that seemed as if it came too soon — though Washington didn’t argue as he moved somewhat unsteadily across the ring.

Those two punches from Wilder turned the tide on what had otherwise been a competitive fight until then. Wilder had done very little in the opening rounds. Washington hadn’t done much either, but he’d done enough that some watching from ringside and on television believed he’d taken an early lead. That’s not how the official judges saw it. Two of them had it even after four rounds, 38-38, or two rounds apiece, while the third had Wilder ahead 39-37, or three rounds to one.

But according to Wilder, the way the fight unfolded was all part of the plan.

“I just kept calm and found my rhythm. I really knew he was going to tire out, and when he did I took advantage,” Wilder said afterward. “It was all about timing. I’m very smart when it comes to using different tactics in the ring.”

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Wilder will still have his doubters, given that he’s looked less than spectacular in the early rounds against lesser opposition during several of his title defenses. Those doubters wonder how he’ll fare when he’s in against better opponents. They may get their answer before the year is out.

Wilder, who is now 38-0 with 37 knockouts, is hoping to unify with the other heavyweight titleholders, including the winner of the upcoming fight between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko, or possibly Joseph Parker. He may have a bout or two before then.

Bermane Stiverne — who Wilder defeated two years ago to win the title — could be in line for a rematch. And there’s also a potential fight against Dominic Breazeale, who won on the undercard and then had a confrontation with Wilder and members of Wilder’s camp later on in the night at the fight hotel.

Washington had stepped in as a late replacement after Wilder’s original opponent tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. He is now 18-1-1 with 12 KOs. He leaves having gained confidence and experience.

“I just got a little impatient. I was trying to go for it,” Washington said afterward. “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.”

Washington will regroup and go back to the drawing board. His next appearance will probably come against another fellow heavyweight prospect or contender.

 Jarrett Hurd Solves Tony Harrison, Wins World Title at 154

Jarrett Hurd had a hard time landing cleanly on Tony Harrison during the first half of their fight. The second half was a different story. Hurd ultimately overcame a difficult and determined effort from Harrison, stopping him in the ninth round and capturing a junior middleweight world title in the process.

Harrison was once in Hurd’s position himself, a promising 154-pounder rising up the ranks. But then he suffered a damaging defeat, losing to Willie Nelson in 2015. Harrison had bounced back with a few wins since then. This was a second chance for him, and he showed up ready to make the most of it.

Harrison boxed well early on, landing better than Hurd did and making Hurd miss. But Hurd was able to send a message at the end of the fifth, rocking Harrison with a right hand just before the bell. That didn’t change everything, but it was a sign that Hurd could hurt Harrison.

Yet it was Hurd who seemed to be in retreat in the early moments of the seventh round, possibly bothered by a body shot. He recovered and soon had Harrison reeling once again. Harrison made it out of the round and had a better eighth.

In the ninth, however, Hurd countered a Harrison jab with a big right hand. Harrison went down hard. He beat the count at nine and seemed to be ready to go on, but then he spat his mouthpiece out, and the referee decided that Harrison was done.

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“We wanted to take our time with him, because Harrison can box and move,” Hurd said afterward. “But every time he fights he wears down toward the end.”

Hurd is now 20-0 with 14 KOs. He picked up the belt left vacant when Jermall Charlo decided to move up to middleweight. It’s been a quick ascent for the 26-year-old, who impressed as he dispatched Frank Galarza at the end of 2015 and then did the same to Oscar Molina and Jo Jo Dan in 2016. That run firmly established that Hurd was on the verge of being a true contender. Then he got the opportunity to become a titleholder.

He’ll still have some work to do to shore up the flaws revealed this past Saturday night.

As for Harrison, he was good enough to give Hurd some problems — but he otherwise lacks what it takes to get over the hump. He’s twice unraveled later in a fight and is now 24-2 with 20 KOs.

 

Dominic Breazeale Stops Izuagbe Ugonoh in Fun Heavyweight Slugfest

For the second time, Dominic Breazeale has battled back from the brink of defeat, rising off the canvas to score a fifth-round technical knockout. Last year, it was a stoppage win over Amir Mansour. This past Saturday, it was a crowd-pleasing victory over a previously unbeaten heavyweight named Izuagbe Ugonoh.

Breazeale sure is flawed, but he sure is fun.

He came in at the heaviest of his pro career, a doughy 263 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame. Ugonoh targeted that body early and also came upstairs, having little trouble landing while also taking some fire in return.

Early on in the third, Ugonoh drove Breazeale to the ropes with a pair of right hands, then got caught by a left hook while throwing one of his own. That sent Ugonoh back a few steps, creating just enough distance for a right hand from Breazeale that sent Ugonoh down.

Breazeale tried to follow up on his hurt opponent, but Ugonoh dug down and landed a big one-two. Soon Breazeale was staggered, trying to hold on to Ugonoh and tackling them both to the mat in the process. Ugonoh continued to fire away, and then Breazeale battled back and landed a few more heavy shots of his own, wobbling Ugonoh just before the bell.

 

The action picked back up once more about halfway through the fourth round. Ugonoh hurt Breazeale with a right hand, and Breazeale again tried to hold on and again fell forward. This time it was ruled a knockdown. Breazeale got up by the count of eight and staggered backward. Ugonoh was too exhausted to finish Breazeale, however, landing one more good right hand but otherwise letting him off the hook.

That proved to be the turning point. Breazeale was fresher in the fifth. Ugonoh wasn’t. Breazeale dropped Ugonoh with a right hand early in the round, then put him down once more soon thereafter.

“Honestly, I just got tired,” Ugonoh said afterward. “I gave him what I had, and then I got tired. When he came back at me, I wasn’t able to keep up and finish through on my game plan.”

Ugonoh is now 17-1 with 14 KOs. This was a step up for the prospect, and the loss will be a step back. He’ll get another chance, though.

Breazeale, meanwhile, is now 18-1 with 16 KOs. He needed this victory after being dominated by titleholder Anthony Joshua last June. The win keeps him from being consigned to the scrap heap.

He and his camp had a brawl with Wilder and Wilder’s camp later on that night at the post-fight hotel. It wouldn’t be a surprise if that action outside of the ring led to Wilder and Breazeale settling the score in the ring.

David Greisman
About the Author:

David Greisman.

David Greisman is an award-winning boxing writer based out of Washington, D.C., who has covered the sport since 2004. He is the senior staff writer and “Fighting Words” columnist for BoxingScene.com and a reporter for The Ring magazine. Greisman is the author of the book “Fighting Words: The Heart and Heartbreak of Boxing.”
Follow on Twitter @fightingwords2

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