Undefeated Deontay Wilder stopped Gerald Washington in the fifth round to retain his World Boxing Council heavyweight world title.
The 31-year-old champion started poorly in front of hometown fans in Birmingham, Alabama, and was trailing on the scorecards when he sprang to life in the fifth round, knocking Washington down with a right-left combination.
“I said I wasn’t going nowhere. I am still here. We are going to keep the fights coming,” Wilder said.
It was the first fight for Wilder since he broke his right hand and suffered a torn right biceps muscle in an eighth-round stoppage of US veteran Chris Arreola in July.
Wilder, who won the title in 2015 with a unanimous 12-round decision over Canadian Bermane Stiverne, improved to 38-0 with 37 knockouts.
Despite being a fill-in opponent for Wilder, Washington gave the champ trouble in the first few rounds. Washington, who dropped to 18-1 with 12 knockouts, got the call after Wilder’s planned opponent, Poland’s Andrzej Wawrzyk, tested positive for a banned substance.
Wilder barely broke a sweat in the opening rounds as he threw just a handful of punches, mostly jabs.
He let Washington bring the fight to him, but in the fifth he landed a solid right to the temple of Washington and quickly followed it up with a left to the head that Washington tried unsuccessfully to block.
The victory sets the stage for Wilder to try and unify the heavyweight titles against rival champions.
Britain’s unbeaten Anthony Joshua and Ukraine’s Wladimir Klitschko meet April 29 in London for the World Boxing Association and International Boxing Federation titles while unbeaten World Boxing Organization champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand is set to face Britain’s undefeated Hughie Fury on April 1 in Auckland.
“I am ready for Joseph Parker. Are they ready for me?” Wilder said.
On the undercard, Jarrett Hurd stopped Tony Harrison in the ninth round to win the vacant International Boxing Federation 154-pound title.
“It is a feeling like I have never felt before,” said Hurd of the victory. “You got a new champion at 154 in Jarrett Hurd. We just wanted to wear him down, and in later rounds take him out.”
McDonnell falls short in world title twin ambition
Britain’s Gavin McDonnell missed out on joining twin brother Jamie as a world champion after losing on points to Mexico’s Rey Vargas for the vacant World Boxing Council super-bantamweight belt in Hull, United Kingdom.
Had the previously undefeated McDonnell, 30, won he and Jamie, the World Boxing Association bantamweight champion, would have become the first British twins to both hold world titles simultaneously.
But although the fight took place in Hull, not far from McDonnell’s base in Doncaster, northern England, there was no denying Vargas was a worthy winner after landing the better punches.
McDonnell, however, was adamant he would bounce back from losing his maiden world title bout after going the distance with Vargas.
“My feet were a little bit slow and I just couldn’t pin him. I was a little bit too eager at times and credit to Rey, he beat me fair and square,” McDonnell said.
“I gave it everything and I just hope everyone enjoyed it. I feel as though I’ve let everybody down. The support’s been fantastic, my first time topping the bill and I just fell short this time.
“I’ve gone the distance there with a great fighter and I’ve shown I belong at the level, I just need to start tweaking things. No doubt I’ll be a world champion, it’s just a few more fights to get another crack.”
Jeddo wins 69kg title
Moroccan boxer Ahmed bin Jeddo won the 69kg gold at the world championship in professional boxing, as classified by the World Boxing Organization (WBO) in Berkane, Morocco. Bin Jeddo previously won the African championship in the medium lightweight and entered the professional ranks in 2009 after founding the Moroccan national group of professional boxing.
WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder is announced the winner in his fight against Gerald Washington in Birmingham. (AFP)