Gerald Washington and Wes Nofire fighting to regain winning form

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Pair of heavyweights looking to make a big statement Sunday night on PBC on FS1 card in Lancaster, California.

The first time he appeared on television things didn’t go quite the way heavyweight John Wesley Nofire envisioned. He suffered his first professional loss, and fans around the nation saw it firsthand. The bout against Joey Abell was televised on FS1 and FOX Deportes.

It’s one thing to suffer your first loss as a professional, another when it occurs during your TV debut. But it gets worse. Nofire wasn’t just defeated in May 2016, he was TKO’d in the third round.

For many heavyweights that experience would mark the beginning of a downward spiral. But Nofire isn’t an average heavyweight. He bounced back in his next outing, defeating journeyman Stacy Frazier via second-round TKO in September 2017 during a non-televised bout. It turns out that the setback to Abell was a valuable lesson.

Gerald Washington and Wes Nofire post for photos following their weigh-in. (Leo Wilson / Premier Boxing Champions)

Nofire promises that the mistakes he made before and during his initial television appearance won’t be repeated when he returns to the FS1 and FOX Deportes spotlight at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT in Lancaster, California on Sunday. Nofire faces former title challenger Gerald Washington (18-2-1, 12 KOs) in a 10-rounder.

This time around Nofire (20-1-0, 16 knockouts) will enter the ring at full strength - physically and mentally. He was battling flu-like symptoms against Abell but refused to take the illness seriously. He was extremely confident that a win over Abell was in the bag.

There was also the matter of not following the fight plan and utilizing his strengths, setting up his powerful right hand with a stiff left jab. The only thing on Nofire’s mind that night was getting rid of Abell early and returning home to his pregnant wife, Molly.

News of Molly’s pregnancy came as the couple was in the process of adopting a baby girl. With several non-boxing matters on his mind, Nofire decided that he’d fight toe-to-toe with Abell. Failing to use his jab, apply his footwork and move his head to avoid Abell’s hard left, proved disastrous for Nofire.

“The one thing I learned is never to fight when I’m sick,” Nofire said. “You have to be fully healthy when you take a fight and are trying to move up in the division. I also learned that rather than going in trying to kill somebody, you have to box. Don’t fight outside your element, stay within your character.”

Nofire didn’t lack respect for Abell but had reason to believe he was the superior fighter. He’d beaten most of his previous opponents rather handily and could see nothing in Abell’s arsenal that posed a serious threat. Besides, Abell was coming into that fight with nine losses on his resume and second-round KO loss in his most recent bout.

Now the days of focusing on an opponent’s weaknesses or recent setbacks are over. While Washington had a pair of losses recently, Nofire is aware of them, but not focused on those losses. No matter who’s placed in front of him, however, Nofire intends to deliver the best he has to offer. That’s exactly what he has planned Sunday night for Washington.

“This fight with Gerald Washington couldn’t come at a better time,” Nofire said. “A win over him will prove that I could have beaten all the guys he beat. It’s a great time for me; he’s coming off two straight losses so his confidence will be shaken once he gets touched.”

Nofire makes it clear that despite Washington’s recent troubles in the ring, he represents his most-seasoned foe. Washington has faced several quality opponents - most notably WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

But Nofire isn’t obsessed with Washington’s quality of opposition, physical strength or weaknesses. He is confident that the key to victory for him will be utilizing all his skills - the straight left jab, hard overhand rights and movement defensively - on fight night as well as sticking to the overall fight plan.

“People will see me pull out my full arsenal. We’re in the heavyweight division, which means we can all punch. I will absolutely not be susceptible to the straight left or right hand.

“This fight is an opportunity to show that I’m at a top-tier world level. Gerald has fought for a world title but he came up short. By beating him I will show that it’s my time to compete at the highest level.

“Most important, my mind is where it needs to be for this fight.”

For a closer look at Washington vs Nofire, check out our fight page.

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