By Sean Crose
Gerald Washington has made a name for himself as a patient fighter. The California heavyweight didn’t seem too patient when it came to finishing off Skip Scott on Thursday night, however. After bringing Scott to his knees with an excellent shot in round two, Washington proceeded to fire another crisp punch to Scott’s body before heading to a neutral corner.
No doubt that final blow was illegal, but referee Lou Moret didn’t seem to notice – or perhaps to much care. The question, of course, is should anyone else much care? For there’s little doubt that Washington had dropped Scott. He had simply taken things too far after the fact. That’s not an excuse, just an observation. Still, taking things too far in the sport of boxing can be technically worthy of a disqualification.
What was Moret to do, however? It certainly looked like Scott had been brought down clean. How bad would it have looked if Moret had disqualified Washington immediately after the man had put his opponent down on the canvas? The truth is that the whole thing was a no win situation for Moret and an unfortunate situation for Scott.
It’s worth nothing that Scott was more than a simple showcase fight for Washington. The man walked into the ring with a 16-1 record. What’s more, that one loss came from his very first fight, meaning the guy had clearly improved since his virgin foray into the ring. Also worth noting is the fact that Scott was a larger man than Washington – and at nearly 6’6, Washington himself is unquestionably one of the heavyweight division’s new breed of “big men.”
So, where does Washington, the man they call El Gallo Negro, go from here? Most likely upward and onward. Why? Well, first of all, because he’s a solid fighter with the potential to get even better. He’s patient, he hits hard and he doesn’t get frazzled. After Scott became physically aggressive Thursday in round one, for instance, Washington kept his cool, subsequently sending his opponent to the mat in the very next round.
The other promising thing for Washington is that he has a great personal story. He’s both Latino and African-American, he went to school in Mexico, served in the American military, and played football for USC before making it into the NFL. And that was all before he became a professional boxer. He’s also a nice, easygoing guy, which lends itself to an air of counter-programming in this age of Tyson Fury.
What Washington lacks, at least at this moment, is the ability to dazzle. He told me in a recent interview that playing it safe is far more important to him than getting hurt. That may be smart, but it doesn’t always make for compelling viewing. He may have studied the Klitschko’s, but if it becomes clear to television viewers that Washington has a bland fighting style, the most exciting biography in the world isn’t going to help him.
Still, it would be ridiculous to be overly critical of Washington at this point. Late punches aren’t uncommon in boxing and are generally the result of fighters being caught up in the moment rather than in some nefarious plan to steal a bout. The man is a heavyweight on the rise, one who’s just a step or two behind Bryant Jennings and Mike Perez at this point.
That being said, Washington will want to avoid the kind of ending he brought about on Thursday. The man prides himself on being a gentleman. Therefore, he should give Scott a rematch sooner rather than later. It won’t hurt his career and will even draw fan interest. It’s basically the gentlemanly thing to do.