It’s been a packed weekend of boxing, folks. Three world championships took place, with a host of hot prospects filling out the support. A back-to-back Heavyweight extravaganza unfolded in Alabama, joined by a Junior Featherweight Championship across the Atlantic. Let’s get stuck in.
Deontay Wilder vs Gerald Washington
At the Legacy Arena, Alabama, Deontay Wilder made the fifth successful defense of his WBC Heavyweight title, taking out a spirited challenger in Gerald Washington. This wasn’t quite the mismatch die-hard fans had been expecting. In fact, Washington, an unheralded fringe level type, put on a pretty solid performance for the first four rounds, holding his shape well, and arguably gaining a lead on the scorecards. Wilder needed some time to establish his range and warm into the fight, and that instilled confidence in Washington.
But all it took was one clean right hand from Wilder to soon upset the momentum in the 5th. Washington hit the deck and managed to beat the count, only to find himself under fire from a multitude of full-blooded, wild haymakers, which forced the referee to do his duty seconds later. Wilder, who improves to 38 wins, 37 knockouts, should now – surely – start looking to secure a mega fight with a fellow titleholder. IBF champion Anthony Joshua likely poses the biggest threat, but also an attractive gold mine retirement package, whatever the outcome. Meanwhile, Washington loses his unbeaten slate, falling to 18 wins, 1 defeat, 1 draw, 12 knockouts.
Wilder vs Washington: Undercard
- Jarrett Hurd (20-0, 14 KO) claimed his first major scalp in the form of highly-regarded operator Tony Harrison (24-2, 20 KO). More importantly for Hurd, who was able to rough up and eventually stop his man in the 9th, he now picks up the vacant IBF Junior Middleweight strap. Harrison was effective in the early rounds, but started to unravell after being staggered by an uppercut in the 5th. Hurd turned up the heat from there on, grinding away round after round, and then floored Harrison with a heavy right straight in the 9th. Harrison beat the count, but spat out his gum shield. That action might as well have been a white flag for the referee, and soon the fight was waved off.
- A stunning Heavyweight war erupted between prospect Izugabe Ugonoh (17-1, 14 KO) and Dominic Breazeale (18-1, 15 KO). Both fighters were dropped hard during 5 rounds of punishing see-saw action – Ugonoh in the 3rd, twice in the 5th, and Breazeale in the 4th – but it was to be Breazeale’s night. This was an explosive, crowd-pleasing performance, and has no doubt catapulted Breazeale back into the big picture following a one-sided KO loss to Anthony Joshua last June. As for Ugonoh, who was finally knocked through the ropes off a right hand, he hardly did himself a disservice tonight. The guy can obviously fight, crack, and will be welcomed back by anyone who craves all-business destroyers of the glamour division. The word ‘rematch’ is one I like.
- Rising contender Alantez Fox (22-0-1, 10 KO) earned a hard-fought decision over game opponent Kenneth McNeil (10-3, 7 KO). Scores of 95-94 (twice) and 97-92 were telling of the Super Middleweight 10-rounder’s competitive nature.
- Super Middleweight prospect Caleb Plant (15-0, 10 KO) kept his unbeaten run intact following a Unanimous Decision over Thomas Awimbono (25-7-1, 21 KO). Final scorecards came in at 100-89 (twice) and 99-90.
Rey Vargas vs Gavin McDonnell
At the Ice Arena, Yorkshire, Rey Vargas won a Majority Decision over Gavin McDonnell to lift the vacant WBC Junior Featherweight title. While most observers will have zero difficulty agreeing with the verdict, there’s much to be desired about the official tallies. McDonnell was a game challenger throughout, no question, and deserves huge credit for holding a strong shape and bringing plenty of guts and ambition. But I’m sticking with my 119-109 scorecard (disputed by 117-111, 116-112, and a ridiculous 114-114), nonetheless, simply because Vargas was the ring general pretty much all night long.
McDonnell was never hurt or in serious danger of being humiliated, but was outclassed by the more experienced, polished fighter. Vargas had the stronger skill set, which he showcased coming forward for the first 6-7 rounds, and then in reverse for the remaining sessions while being pushed back by a stalking McDonnell. An occasional right hand did meet the whiskers of Vargas, but the visitor impressed with good head movement while unleashing a zipping, accurate arsenal, which included persistent attention to the mid-section.
In short, Vargas, who now climbs to 29 wins, 22 knockouts, was the boss. Meanwhile, McDonnell’s first defeat reduces him to 16 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws, 4 knockouts, but this world level step up will not have been for nothing.
Vargas vs McDonnell: Undercard
- Luke Campbell (16-1, 13 KO) ploughed through an overmatched Jairo Lopez (21-7, 14 KO) to bag a sharp 2nd round TKO. Lopez was knocked down twice, demonstrating his lack of ambition by spitting out his gum shield on both occasions. So, even though Campbell was punch perfect here – the fight-ending counter-uppercut was world-class – there’s really not an awful lot to chew on. Things got interesting post-fight, however, when Campbell announced a deep desire to avenge his sole career defeat to Yvan Mendy. Now that’s a stellar Lightweight rematch that needs to happen. And props to Campbell if he’s serious about chasing it down.
- Tommy Coyle (23-4, 11 KO) kicked off the Sky Sports broadcast with a ferocious performance against Kofi Yates (14-3, 1 KO). Coyle kept his domestic all-action hero status intact, with right hands doing major damage, beginning in the 2nd. Yates barely made it out of that stanza, and was soon sent to the canvas following a crunching right in the 3rd. The referee rightly called an end to the Junior Welterweight affair.
- Bantamweight startup Ryan Burnett (16-0, 9 KO) kept his slate clean with a 79-73 points victory over Joseafat Reyes (6-8-1, 1 KO).
- David Allen (10-2-1, 7 KO) made a successful return, wiping the floor with journeyman Lukasz Rusiewicz (22-29, 13 KO) inside a single round. Allen, a failed Heavyweight project of sorts, will be hoping to remain in the win column following back-to-back defeats against Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz in 2016.
Spill your opinions on Wilder vs Washington, plus Vargas vs McDonnell in the comments. And where you’d like to see the victors head next.