“I’m the champion on the rise. My name is Gerald Washington. The gentleman, Gerald Washington, El Gallo Negro, and I’m the champion on the rise. I’m on the way up, I’m working my way to the top. I’m just learning on the way.” – Gerald Washington
Gerald ‘El Gallo Negro’ Washington (16-0-1, 11 KOs) has been an athlete since elementary school where he learned to box and play tennis. “I boxed all the way through high school and then I stopped in high school to play the high school sports,” Washington said. It was in high school where Washington’s passion for football began and boxing came to an end. His love for football earned him a scholarship to the University of Southern California where he played for Pete Carroll.
After USC, Washington bounced around the NFL for a few years but fell short of his goal to make an NFL regular season roster. “In my transition in trying to get on teams, I worked with the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation in south Los Angeles and I was a mentor there and a boxing coach. As I was working with the kids, I started getting a little more feel as I was teaching them. I was learning again and reinforcing everything that I knew growing up and I was able to take that and begin my boxing career.”
I don’t have all of the amateur experience . . . so this is a learning process as I’m moving along.
Washington chose to return to the sport he first fell in love with at an advanced age, at least by boxing standards. He turned pro at the age of 30, after just 16 amateur fights, 12 of which were fought before he graduated high school. However, when your mother is from Mexico, a country with a rich boxing history, and your father is from Detroit, Michigan, home of Emanuel Steward’s Kronk gym, you could say Washington didn’t choose boxing, boxing chose him. “On the Mexican side, they know I got that blood . . . that warrior blood . . . that’s gonna take me to the top and make me a vicious world champion one day.”
Although Washington’s fate as a fighter seems preordained, it’s not the sole reason for his success. His ascension to the top of the heavyweight division is unfolding before our eyes partly because of his alliance with the sports most infamous manager, Al Haymon. He and Haymon formed a partnership by happenstance when Haymon and his associates were scouting Dominic Breazeale and Malik Scott. “They were looking at some other boxers to sign with them . . . and I happened to be training there that day. Sam Watson pulled me out of the ring and said that they would sign me as well, and I was just very excited ever since that moment on,” said Washington.
“I had my first professional fight with Al Haymon and he has put me on TV a number of times and he’s gotten me the good fights. I’m just very blessed to be with that team and Premier Boxing Champions. Now it’s just a learning process for me. I don’t have all of the amateur experience . . . so this is a learning process as I’m moving along,” Washington says. While his style is constantly evolving, he’s still learning how to use all the weapons at his disposal, which is something that comes with experience and exposure. “I’m more of a defensive style. I’m very cautious when I’m in there fighting but I’m learning how to sit in the pocket and be safe. That way I don’t have to use my legs as much,” adds Washington.
At times Washington employs Ali-like tactics and circles the ring as he flicks his long jab at his opponents. He used this strategy in his 17th professional fight against Amir Mansour, which ended in a draw even though he dominated the bout and had Mansour hurt on more than one occasion.
“That’s the only thing that let Amir Mansour in my last fight. If you noticed, he didn’t land any punches of significance. The only good shot he hit me with was when he hit me with a low blow, that was the best shot he had all night. I just have to learn from that and just learn to finish the job. I let him chase me around the ring and I guess that persuaded the judges to make it look like he was winning the fight when he wasn’t. I was landing all the punches and causing all the damage. To me, in my mind, if I’m doing that, then I believe I’m winning the fight. By the Marquess Queensberry Rules, that gave me the fight. I learned my lesson to put my stamp on each and every round . . . to make it clear for the judges,” Washington said.
The stuff that Amir Mansour was able to get away with, this guy will not be able to get away with.
His next fight against Oscar Rivas (18-0, 13 KOs), scheduled for 10 rounds at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday, February 27, will be a stage for Washington to display all the new facets he’s added to his game. “Camp is going great. I have great sparring, we’re working very well and we’re working on things we need to work on. We don’t mess around in camp. We get better every day.”
Washington is getting work from world-class fighters as he prepares for Rivas and he’s doing all the necessary things to make sure he walks away with the W. Lateef Kayode, Joey Dawejko, and Avery Gibson are just a few of his sparring partners giving him looks that resemble Rivas, which will ready him for whatever comes his way on fight night.
“[Rivas] is a big strong guy, he comes in and he does his thing. It’s gonna be similar to Amir Mansour but the only thing is, now I have more experience and I have more savvy in the ring. The stuff that Amir Mansour was able to get away with, this guy will not be able to get away with. I’ll wear him down mentally and it’s gonna be an exciting fight. Look for me to stay in the pocket a little more and to make this guy feel me.”