Deontay Wilder 222 vs. Gerald Washington 239
Tony Harrison 153.6 vs. Jarrett Hurd 153
Dominic Breazeale 263 vs. Izu Ugonoh 230.6
By Ryan Greene, Premier Boxing Champions – Jerry Izenberg will tell you he’s covered boxing for so long that the only reason he missed the fight between Cain and Abel was due to a big traffic jam.
In all seriousness, as a member of the International Boxing Hall of Fame, he’s a man who has covered the sport since the 1950s and literally written the book on the history and the golden age of heavyweight boxing.
He authored the recently released Once There Were Giants, which chronicles the heavyweight division’s “golden age,” spanning from 1962-97. He’s continued to be an authority on the heavyweight division – and the fight game in general – even after that era came to a close.
The weight class may never reach the peak it once did. But Izenberg believes that American world champion Deontay Wilder (37-0, 36 KO), who defends his WBC crown for the fifth time Saturday night in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions event on FOX at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT, has the potential to be the division’s next true ambassador.
“Our guy from Alabama here, he could be a tremendous fighter,” Izenberg said. “I can’t compare Deontay with anyone (from the golden age) right now, because he’s not a finished product. For his sake and for boxing’s sake, I hope that he continues to evolve and mature. Then you can judge him. His strengths are size and power, and they both go together in his case. He has a tremendous right hand.”
Wilder’s title defense on Saturday comes against unbeaten challenger Gerald Washington (18-0-1, 12 KO). He’s made it clear that should he take care of business Saturday night, he’s eyeing a world title unification fight next, with the goal of unifying as many heavyweight titles as he can in 2017.
During the heyday of heavyweight boxing, Izenberg believes that it was more than talent that made the top guys like Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Larry Holmes and others great champions. It was the level of competition that was available to them all the way up the ladder to the top.
The dearth of tough competition in those days made contenders into seasoned champions, and separated the best from the rest. Even though the heavyweight field is thinner now, Izenberg still believes a worthy leader of the pack will be crowned soon.
“Right now, it’s sort of (a process of) eliminating the weak,” he said. “What’s going to happen is we’re going to get down to two people? (Saturday) is a fight for the future.”
That means an imminent collision between the winner of Wilder vs. Washington and the April 29 title bout between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko – a fight that will give one man a rightful claim to the throne.
“In a fight against the winner of that other fight, Wilder might emerge as a heavyweight whose credentials are unchallenged,” he added.
Izenberg eloquently shares a story told to him by Frazier, who once said that the most important fight of his career was not a clash with Ali or George Foreman, but rather against a tough veteran named George “Scrap Iron” Johnson in May 1967. It was Frazier’s 16th pro fight, coming almost three years before he beat Jimmy Ellis to become the lineal heavyweight champion of the world.
Frazier won the fight via a gritty unanimous decision. He later told Izenberg that that fight taught him more about himself and what it would take to be a true champion than any of the marquee bouts that were ahead for him.
While Wilder hasn’t yet been pushed in that manner in 37 pro fights, he’s had to dig deep in terms of his heart and courage as recently as his last bout. In a title defense last July against veteran Chris Arreola, he suffered a broken right hand and torn right biceps in the early rounds, forcing Wilder to close the show using mostly his left.
It’s a type of courage that Wilder will likely need tap into again to become the true king in the new age of heavyweight boxing.
“Larry Holmes won the title just that way,” Izenberg recalled “That’s a courage with which, if you can bottle it up and inject every fighter with it, every fight would be a world championship fight. And (Wilder) has that. We know that much about him, we definitely know that about him.”
Deontay Wilder not worried about Gerald Washington’s height
Undefeated heavyweight world champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder hosted a jam-packed media workout Tuesday at Skyy Gym in Northport, AL as he prepares to defend his title in primetime on Saturday, February 25 in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX and FOX Deportes from Legacy Arena at the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama.
Televised coverage on FOX and FOX Deportes begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and also features a pair of exciting matchups as rising super welterweight contenders Tony Harrison and Jarrett Hurd meet in a 12-round world title eliminator, plus hard-hitting Dominic Breazeale battles undefeated Izuagbe Ugonoh in heavyweight action.
Tickets for the live event, which is promoted by DiBella Entertainment and TBG Promotions in association with Bruno Event Team, start at $25 (not including applicable fees) and are on sale now. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster and by visiting AlabamaTitleFight.com.
Here is what the Alabama-native Wilder had to say Tuesday:
“Gerald Washington is a tall, athletic fighter with good size and power. I don’t have the physical advantages and it’ll make the fight exciting. It’s two tall, athletic guys going at each other. It’s going to be an even playing field and there’s nothing like seeing a tall man go ‘timber’.
“I prefer fighting taller opponents. I can see a lot of things easier against a taller fighter. I take every fighter seriously, especially when they’re eye level. I know that I can be punished if I make a mistake and if their experienced enough to capitalize on it.
“Washington doesn’t know what’s coming for him. I think he’s overwhelmed with the excitement of having the opportunity to fight for a world title. He said a lot of similar things that I said coming up, but I don’t think he knows what February 25 has in store for him. He’s facing one of the most dangerous fighters in the division and I’m glad that he’s saying he’s ready.
“I’m glad there’s not going to be any excuses from Washington. I know he was already deep into training camp when he got the call. You have to always stay ready in this game. We’ve had the same amount of time to get ready as he has, so I’m not looking at this like a short notice fight.
“Injuring myself in back-to-back rounds last time out was something I hadn’t experienced before. To go out there and fight through so much pain was tough but I’m the champion. Nobody is going to beat me. They’re going to have to take me out of the ring to make me stop fighting. I’m showing each and every time that I’m meant to be doing.
“I think I’m close to unifying the belts. I think this year will be a big step forward. A lot of people are talking about it and my team is 100 percent on board with it. We’re taking the right approach to getting me in the position to get all the belts. There are going to be a lot of great heavyweight fights this year.
“The progression of my left hand as a power punch has gone really well. Everything was kind of a blessing in disguise because each time I’ve had an injury I’ve been able to develop my relationship with my left hand and I’m looking forward to displaying something a little different that I’m going to take advantage of.
“Everything is feeling really great right now but the real test will be when I get into the ring. We’ll see if I’m 100 percent. I’ve been giving it my all in training camp and we’ll really see how it holds up when my fist hits his face.”
ABOUT WILDER vs. WASHINGTON
Deontay Wilder vs. Gerald Washington is a heavyweight showdown between the WBC Champion Wilder and the unbeaten Washington that takes place Saturday, February 25 from the BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama. Coverage of Premier Boxing Champions on FOX & FOX Deportes begins at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT and features a pair of exciting matchups as rising super welterweight contenders Tony Harrison and Jarrett Hurdmeet in a 12-round world title eliminator, plus hard-hitting Dominic Breazeale battles undefeated Izuagbe Ugonoh in heavyweight action.
Additional action on FS1 and FOX Deportes begins at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT and features unbeaten super middleweight Caleb Plant battling Ghana’s Thomas Awimbono and undefeated knockout artist Jorge Lara facing Jhon Gemino.
Fans can live stream the fights on FOX Sports GO, available in English or Spanish through the FS1 or FOX Deportes feeds. The fight is available on desktop at FOXSportsGO.com and through the app store, or connected devices including Apple TV, Android TV, Fire TV, Xbox One and Roku. In addition, the show will be simulcast on FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83 on satellite radios and on the SiriusXM app.