By Derek Bonnett
Since winning his portion of the heavyweight title, Deontay Wilder has defended his championship in his home state of Alabama. Defense number five was scheduled for twelve rounds at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham against late substitute Gerald Washington. On a boxing card full of action and drama the champion and challenger did not disappoint.
Gerald Washington, 34, made the most of his first world title opportunity by jumping out to an early lead from the opening bell. A strong jab kept Wilder’s offensive limited to some wild swats in the early going of round one. Jabbing to the chest and head of the champion Washington was able to put the first round easily in his pocket. Washington continued to show the same moxie in round two, forgetting his was the challenger and fighting with great confidence behind the jab. The two boxers got tied up at the legs causing Washington to stumble to a knee, but he was unhurt and resumed control upon rising. Through round three, the same simple plan worked. Jab, jab, jab. Wilder’s face showed noticeable discomfort with the tone of the fight after nine minutes complete. The champion showed up for round four and began opening up with his shots. A nice body blow reminded Washington of his position in the fight, but the challenger remained game until the end which was not far away. A massive right hand hurt Washington on the inside and a left hook landed before Washington could touch down on the canvas. The challenger rose, probably too quickly, but was finished off by a barrage of punches which prompted the referee to intervene. Washington, standing, but on wobbly legs, stumbled across the ring after the bout was stopped, further justifying the referee’s actions.
Wilder, 31, notched his fifth successful title defense and kept his perfect record intact. He raised his resume to 38-0-0 (37). Washington fell to 18-1-1 (12) after a noble effort, which should keep him on the fringe of contention.