Friday, August 9, 2013

Wilder vs Liakhovich - Showtime Tonight!

By Mark Ortega
Special to The Tuscaloosa News

INDIO, Calif. | Tuscaloosa heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder, the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, takes his first big step up in class tonight when he meets former WBO heavyweight champion Sergei Liakhovich in a 10-round main event. The card will be televised on Showtime.

Wilder has a perfect 28-0 record with 28 knockouts since turning professional almost five years ago. None of those knockouts have come against a fighter in the class of Liakhovich, who in 2006 upset the odds by earning a decision victory over Lamon Brewster to win a version of the heavyweight title.

Though Liakhovich (25-5 16 knockouts) has won just two of his last six bouts, all four losses have come against quality contenders. Wilder is looking to establish himself as one of the best young American heavyweights; an impressive win over Liakhovich would go far in making that claim.

Liakhovich should provide a good litmus test to gauge Wilder's progression. He's never been past the fourth round, while Liakhovich hasn't been stopped before the ninth.

One of the other premiere young American heavyweights Wilder is trying to measure himself against is unbeaten Philadelphian, Bryant Jennings (17-0, 9 knockouts), who stopped Liakhovich on his stool in the ninth round of their fight last March. That marked the last time the Belarusian stepped into the ring.

Wilder and Jennings exchanged heated words with one another on ATG Radio (an internet radio show) a week ago.

“I'm ready for whatever, to give the fans what they want,” Wilder said. “I want to shut somebody up. It's time for that fight with Jennings, it's 2013, almost 2014, I want it.”

Wilder and Liakhovich weighed in Thursday, with the former looking much like a future champion, coming in at a muscular 224 pounds. Liakhovich has seen better days, weighing 232 pounds.

Wilder is a physical specimen at 6-foot-7 and has sparred with heavyweight champion brothers Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. Despite his fight night foes being of lesser credentials, Wilder has benefitted from working with the two best heavyweights today Liakhovich feels as though the experience factor will be a big reason for his success on Friday.

“One of the main guys I spar with is a tall guy like him,” Liakhovich said after weighing in.

“I've fought a lot of tall guys like [Robert] Helenius and [Nicolay] Valuev, which will help me in terms of knowing what to do against a tall opponent.”

Liakhovich failed to note that in those two fights, Valuev shut him out and Helenius stopped him in nine rounds. Perhaps those twenty plus rounds with giants will play a positive factor.

If Wilder knocks out Liakhovich with ease the way he has dispatched previous opponents, he doesn't expect it to be enough to quiet the naysayers.

“I feel like no matter who I fight, I'm not going to get credit,” Wilder said. “If I knock him out early, they'll say he was old, but I just gotta go out there and take care of business.”

Despite what Wilder says, an impressive early knockout would help speed up his ascent up the ladder.  When looking back at his career years from now, it is possible that tonight's fight could be considered the point where he became worthy of the hype.

No comments:

Post a Comment