Boxing: Gerald Washington – from USC to heavyweight title shot

Frankly, we’ll be surprised if Gerald Washington lasts long in his challenge to WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder when they tangle Feb. 25 at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala.

Wilder will be, too.

“Gerald Washington is a big guy I’ve seen fight a few times,” Wilder, of Tuscaloosa, Ala., said this week. “I don’t think he’s ready to fight me, but he thinks he is. We’ll find out on Feb. 25.”

Washington might never be ready for prime time. The former backup defensive end at USC is only 34, but he didn’t turn pro until he was 30. In his most recent bout in July, Washington beat up 45-year-old Ray Austin, stopping him in four rounds at Legacy Arena.

Apparently, that was enough to get him this title shot, which will be televised by Fox. Like it or not, here it comes.

But wait. Washington wants to make one thing clear: He’s no joke.

If Wilder thinks he is, he’s in big trouble.

“Deontay has his opinion on if I’m ready, but everyone has tests in life they have to pass,” Washington told reporters Thursday at Pullman’s Gym in Burbank. “I’m ready to test myself against the best.”

Wilder, who is 6-foot-7, mentioned Washington has size at 6-6 and roughly 245 pounds. But Washington (18-0-1, 12 KOs) said he has more to offer than just power.

“We have more than a puncher’s chance,” Washington said. “We do a lot of different training, drills and mental work to get ready for this fight. Every fight I’ve had has prepared me for this moment.”

John Pullman, Washington’s trainer, said he believes his fighter will win because he is “the smarter fighter.”

“He knows how to adapt and it’s going to make a big difference in this fight,” Pullman said. “Gerald is going to win this fight. How he wins, I don’t like to say and put any unnecessary pressure on us. All I can say is, he’s going to win.”

Again, we don’t expect to see a raw Washington make much of a fight of it, let alone win. Wilder, 31, has…

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