- Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer
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Anyone who watched heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder's stoppage of Sergei Liakhovich last week saw the former titlist get drilled. Knocked out. Smashed. Obliterated.
The first-round knockout Liakhovich suffered as a result of two brutal right hands from Wilder was so destructive that they left Liakhovich literally convulsing on the mat, his arms and legs flopping around uncontrollably.
It was not all that unexpected of a result, given that Liakhovich is far past his best days, which were in 2006, when he briefly held a piece of the title. My prediction was that Wilder would knock him out in the second round. OK, so I was off by a round.
Wilder blitzed him with absolute ease and undoubtedly will move on to a bigger and, hopefully, more competitive fight while it seemed obvious to almost everyone else that Liakhovich, a brave fighter for so many years, was done. With his third decisive knockout loss in a row, he would be best served by retirement.
But Liakhovich is like many fighters who don't know when enough is enough. There is nothing to be ashamed of when a fighter gets knocked out by the bigger, better, younger, fresher foe, as Liakhovich did in 1 minute, 43 seconds. What there is to be ashamed of is what Liakhovich did on Thursday, which is to whine the sourest grapes of all by saying he would protest the knockout loss because of illegal punches.
If Wilder's punches were illegal then boxing shouldn't exist. If Wilder's punches were illegal than I guess so was the shot that Juan Manuel Marquez knocked out Manny Pacquiao with or the blow that Pacquiao knocked out Ricky Hatton with or the punch that Thomas Hearns stopped Roberto Duran with or the punch that Mike Tyson stopped Michael Spinks with or the shot that George Foreman drilled Michael Moorer with. I think you get my point.
Simply, Wilder's shots were clean, legal and ferocious.
Liakhovich, however, can't deal with the reality. Nobody should ridicule him for losing, but for his preposterous protest he deserves it after announcing Thursday that he would file a protest over the fight result with the California State Athletic Commission.
Anthony Cardinale, Liakhovich's attorney, will file the paperwork seeking the outcome of the bout be changed to a no contest. It's a waste of time, but probably will amount to some nice billable hours.
As if the notion of the protest is not hilarious enough, try to read Liakhovich's statement with a straight face.
"My goal for going public is to expose Wilder and show people what really happened because it was difficult to clearly see his illegal punches on television due to the camera placement and how quickly it happened," Liakhovich said. "I also feel that I disappointed a lot of people who believed in me and I feel it's important to explain what happened to them. Wilder's people are sending out press releases to hype him up even more, so it's very important for me to expose him for what he is and how he fights."
What Wilder is? A massive puncher, especially with his right hand. That is why he is 29-0 with 29 knockouts. How he fights? Like a bad man.
Apparently, Liakhovich thinks this is a problem.
"If he had hit me in the face, fair and square, I would have kept my mouth shut and said he was the better man," Liakhovich said.
Actually, Wilder is the better man, but Liakhovich claims that was he was hit with an illegal punch over the ear (which is not illegal) followed by a right "behind" his head.
"Everybody's going around saying nobody can stand up to his power, 29 knockouts in 29 fights, but any heavyweight would go down from a punch behind the head," Liakhovich rationalized. "That's why it's an illegal punch. There's nothing you can do when you get hit with a punch like that; your body just goes wobbly with no balance at all."
It's called getting knocked out, but Liakhovich's delusion knows no bounds. He said he had an MRI after the fight, that he's fine and plans to keep fighting.
"My career will not end on a fight like this that ended because of illegal punches," he said. "I will be back in the gym next week and plan to be fighting again in a few months."
Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, who promotes Wilder, had some other advice for Liakhovich, which is hard to disagree with, telling ESPN.com, "Now I am really worried that he might have a concussion to think that the result of this fight should get overturned.
"He is a crybaby. He should take his loss as a man and probably look for a different form of employment."