Wilder aiming to return with a win

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February 25, 2017
AP In this July 16, 2016, file photo, Deontay Wilder (left) throws a left at Chris Arreola during the WBC heavyweight title bout in Birmingham, Alabama.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama (AP) :

Deontay Wilder is trying to emulate Larry Holmes, both in becoming the world's dominant heavyweight champion and in cultivating a pinpoint left jab while sidelined by a right hand injury.

Returning from a pair of injuries to his right arm and flush from a court victory, the WBC heavyweight champion returns to the ring tonight against unbeaten and mostly unknown Gerald Washington (18 wins one defeat) at Legacy Arena. He's hoping it's the start of a year when he begins adding belts to the one he's dubbed 'Sophie.'

Washington is a 34-year-old former Southern California tight end and defensive end. He is also a former Navy helicopter mechanic who turned pro less than five years ago.

The 31-year-old Wilder (37 wins, no defeats) is making his fifth title defence and fourth in Birmingham, about an hour from his Tuscaloosa home town. He had surgeries to repair a broken right hand and torn right biceps sustained in last summer's fight against Chris Arreola. Trainer Jay Deas said they quickly returned to the ring even with that arm in a sling, working on his left, a la Holmes.

"Holmes had a very average to decent jab until he broke his right hand," Deas said. "When he broke his right hand early in his career, he spent six to eight weeks just on the left hand and became arguably the greatest (jabber) in heavyweight history. We took a page out of that book."

The 6-foot-7 Wilder predicts a lot of jabs in the fight with the 6-5 Washington, both tall, athletic fighters.

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