WILDER vs WASHINGTON — On Monday, Jan. 30, the LA Times confirmed the rumor that Gerald Washington had been selected as Deontay Wilder’s next opponent. Wilder was scheduled to defend his WBC world heavyweight title against Poland’s Andrzej Wawryzk on Feb. 25 at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala., but that match fell out when Wawryzk failed a random drug test, testing positive for an anabolic steroid. The date and venue remain the same for Wilder-Washington which will be televised on FOX as part of the Premier Boxing Champions series.
Gerald Washington hails from Vallejo in Northern California. Following his graduation from high school, he served four years in the Navy as a helicopter mechanic. He then tried his hand at football. Recruited out of the junior college ranks, he lettered two years at USC as a backup defensive end where he was a member of two Rose Bowl winning teams. He had tryouts with the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks in the NFL, but never played in a regular season game.
Washington, now 34 years old, stands six-foot-six, an inch shorter than Deontay Wilder. Of Mexican and African descent, he chose the nickname “El Gallo Negro” – The Black Rooster. Growing up his favorite fighters were Mike Tyson and Julio Cesar Chavez. He reportedly speaks Spanish fluently, having lived for a time with his maternal grandmother in Jalisco, Mexico.
The former USC Trojan launched his pro career in 2012. In his last outing, he advanced his record to 18-0-1 (12) with a 4th round knockout of veteran Ray Austin. That fight was held here at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham on July 16 of last year on the show that featured Deontay Wilder’s title defense against Chris Arreola.
In Ray Austin, Washington was meeting a man who was 45 years old. Since graduating from the 6-round ranks, he has feasted on fighters who were long in the tooth. He has yet to defeat a ranked opponent.
The last boxer with a college football background to fight for a world heavyweight title was Dominic Breazeale who was TKOed in the seventh round by Anthony Joshua. Breazeale will also appear on the Feb. 25 show. The former University of Northern Colorado quarterback is matched against Izuagbe Ugonoh. A former world kickboxing champion who is 17-0 as a conventional boxer, Ugonoh was born and raised in Szczecin, Poland, the son of Nigerian immigrants; his parents are educators. Ugonoh fought his last seven fights in New Zealand where he was a stablemate of Joseph Parker. He currently trains in Las Vegas.
The show also includes a 12-round contest between Jarrett Hurd and Tony Harrison. The prize for the victor is a match with WBC 154-pound champion Jermell Charlo.
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