Unbeaten American heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder will face former titlist Siarhei Liakhovich in the main event of a Golden Boy tripleheader on Friday, August 9, which Showtime will televise. A site for the bout has not been finalized.
Wilder (28-0, 28 KO) is coming off of a predictable win over Audley Harrison in April, continuing his streak of smashing overmatched opponents. He's never had to go past the fourth round as a professional, in part because he does hit like all hell, and in part because he's faced nobody who takes much of a shot. When you're 28 fights in and Harrison is your "biggest" win, there's been some extreme protection, whether to avoid being exposed, or simply to develop the fighter properly. Personally, I do think it's a mix of both -- Wilder came into the pro game still very raw, has bulked up as he needed to, and is still young for a developing heavyweight at 27.
There will be criticism here, though, not really because Liakhovich (25-5, 16 KO) is a particularly poor choice of opponent, but because Golden Boy are choosing to hype it as something more than most will expect the fight to be.
"This is a great test getting in the ring with an experienced fighter," Schaefer said. "(Liakhovich) is a former champion and he has a lot of experience. He's clearly the most experienced fighter Deontay will have fought. But we feel he's ready. It's time to unleash the beast."
"This kind of fight is a step in the right direction for Deontay," said Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez, who made the fight. "With heavyweights it's a very long process but now Deontay is fighting a former world champion and a guy that's tough. He's tough and dangerous and the kind of guy Deontay needs to fight, a guy with experience who will fight back."
There would be more credibility to the "with heavyweights it's a very long process," "this is a great test" stuff if it weren't for the fact that Liakhovich, 37, hasn't fought since March 2012, when he was pretty thoroughly dominated by another American prospect, Bryant Jennings. That fight wasn't close, which makes this seem, beyond the PR puffing, like another fight that GBP are very confident Wilder will win without any real issue.
But if Wilder slugs Liakhovich out of there in under four (which would be my bet, because again, the guy does hit like a mule, whatever else you can say about him), then he moves on and hopefully, we see him take serious steps toward legitimate contention next year, when maybe Seth Mitchell could be served up on a silver platter.