On October 13, heavyweight contender Amir Mansour will face undefeated prospect Gerald Washington in a fight that will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. For fans that follow the heavyweight division closely, this is a significant fight.
Washington is one of the more promising heavyweight hopefuls still hovering on the periphery of relevance. He’s 16-0 with 11 KOs and currently ranked No. 35 at heavyweight by Boxrec. Washington had a busy 2014, going 5-0 with 4 KOs. So far he’s fought just once in 2015, beating rugged veteran Jason Gavern by unanimous decision.
Washington has been a professional for just over 3 years, so he’s fought often during that time. His level of competition has been very respectable for such an inexperienced fighter. In addition to Gavern, he’s faced veteran journeymen like Travis Walker, Nagy Aguilera, Mike Sheppard and Sherman Williams. By fighting Mansour, he’s indicating that he feels prepared to make a true push for a title shot.
Washington came to boxing late and is 33, so it’s not as if he has endless time before him. He’s a big, 6’6” man, with exceptional natural athleticism. After serving a stint in the Navy, he was an outstanding Junior College football player, despite having played just one year in high school. Eventually, he ended up playing for the University of Southern California. He also spent time as a practice squad player for the Seahawks and Bills. Washington is managed by power-broker Al Haymon, so if he’s truly got the talent to develop into a legitimate contender, he’ll get every opportunity to prove it.
Mansour is unlikely to embrace the role of stepping stone, though. He’s a legitimate, top-20 contender. Like Washington, he’s taken his own circuitous route in the sport. Legal troubles have cost him over nine years of his career, and now, at 43, he’s still grinding away for one last big shot. The only loss of his career came by decision in April 2014 against Steve Cunningham, in one of the best heavyweight fights of recent years. Mansour nearly finished Cunningham in Round 5.
As would be expected for a man who is still fighting at 43, Mansour is a physical marvel. One thing I’ll be looking for in this bout is what weight he comes in at. In his 10-round decision victory over Joey Dawejko last May, he came it at just 210 pounds, about 15 to 20 below what is more normal for him. I’m not sure why he chose to lean out that much, because he always looked plenty ripped at the 225-230 pound range. Mansour clearly deserved to win against Dawejko, but had a bit more trouble than I expected him to. Dawejko is a tough, crafty scrapper, though, so perhaps I was merely selling him short.
If Washington can beat Mansour, he’ll serve notice to the division that he’s a player. If Mansour can expose the younger, far less experienced Washington, it will demonstrate that the old dog is nowhere near ready to lie down and rest. It’s a very worthwhile fight for both men.