The Aug. 9 heavyweight bout between undefeated Deontay Wilder and ex-beltholder Sergei Liakhovich, to be televised on Showtime, will take place at The Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio, Calif., Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez and Wilder’s trainer, Jay Deas, informed RingTV.com on Friday.
A 6-foot-7, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist who is coming off a first-round knockout of 2000 Olympic gold medalist Audley Harrison in April, Wilder (28-0, 28 knockouts), of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is considered perhaps America’s No. 1 heavyweight prospect.
“I’m at the point where I want to prove to people that doubt me. It makes me want to prove even more to the world what we already know,” said Wilder, 27. “I want to make my dreams a reality for me as far as what some of the best in the business have been saying about me.”
Wilder was called “No. 1…among the American heavyweights” and “the best heavyweight prospect for winning the heavyweight title” by the late Manny Steward, who trained unified heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko.
“It”s all exciting, and it’s an honor all in one package. I get excited when you have legends, whether they’ve fought in the ring, or they’ve commentated, or they train the best in the world to be talking about you,” said Wilder, who has benefited from having worked with Steward, Wladimir Klitschko and his older sibling, WBC titleholder Vitali Klitschko.
“It’s not only that they’re talking about you, but they’re thinking that you’re the next great thing to come along, and they’re thinking that you’re the best in the business. It brings excitement and it definitely makes me want to train harder to realize that dream and to open up that moment of, ‘hey, they were right.'”
With the heavyweight division being dominated by the Ukrainian Klitschko brothers, Wilder is trying to become the first U.S.-born fighter to hold a heavyweight crown since 2007, when Shannon Briggs lost the WBO’s belt to Sultan Ibragimov.
Liakhovich, 36, is 2-4 with two knockouts since rising from a seventh-round knockdown to defeat Lamon Brewster for the WBO belt in April of 2006. Liakhovich has suffered consecutive ninth-round knockout losses to unbeaten contenders Robert Helenius and Bryant Jennings.
The Wilder-Liahkovich undercard will match junior middleweight Jermall Charlo (14-0, 10 KOs) of Houston against Miami’s Antwone Smith (23-4-1, 12 KO),and Mexican junior lightweight Francisco Vargas (16-0-1, 13 KOs) could fight Cincinnati’s Brandon Bennett (15-0, 7 KOs).
Photo by Craig Benett, Fightwireimages.com
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]