Deontay Wilder, the 2008 Olympic heavyweight boxing bronze medalist, barely broke a sweat Friday night en route to dispatching Sergei Liakhovich in less than two minutes at the Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino.
The former WBO heavyweight champion was supposed to provide Wilder, a Tuscaloosa native, solid work in extending him past the fourth round for the first time. Instead, Liakhovich didn’t make it through the first round. Previously, no opponent had been able to get rid of the Scottsdale, Ariz., resident in less than nine rounds.
Wilder was largely a project after turning professional. Though he won a medal in Beijing, China, he was still a novice with less than 50 amateur fights to his credit.
Over the past five years, Wilder cut his teeth against modest opposition, mostly away from the bright lights and expectations that come with major television. Friday’s Showtime-televised main event could force Wilder to be moved quicker than anyone anticipated.
Wilder has sparred Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, the two-headed heavyweight monster that has reigned over the division for much of the last decade. Is Wilder that far from being ready to test himself against either brother without headgear? Is it something Wilder would be interested in if the time comes?
“I thought about that after camp, because I gave such tremendous work to them (as a sparring partner),” said Wilder after Friday night’s victory. “The reply I got from sparring them, I got the feeling maybe they’ll hold off on fighting me, because they know what I’m capable of doing.
“At the same time, those guys are very competitive to where if you think you’re ready, and I know if you talk enough, they will fight you.”