DEONTAY WILDER thundered through Dominic Breazeale in less than one round to score his ninth consecutive defence of the WBC heavyweight title. Afterwards he insisted unification with Anthony Joshua, who holds the WBA, IBF and IBF belts, will happen.
The “Bronze Bomber” oozed violence inside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His right hand rocketed over his left, which had expertly prodded Breazeale’s jaw into position, and sent the mandatory challenger to the canvas.
Breazeale somehow managed to get to his feet as referee Harvey Dock reached 10 but he stumbled back into the ropes. The fight was over at a mere 2-17.
And, as two minutes and 17 seconds go, it was exciting. It was flawed. It was brutal.
Wilder had made some idiotic comments in fight week about wanting to kill Breazeale so he could “get a body” on his record. Even more stupid, perhaps, was his failure to apologise or admit any regret for uttering them. Even so, the fury within Wilder – which stemmed back to a 2017 altercation in a hotel lobby – was obvious long before the opening bell, and played its part in the hectic and brutal conclusion.
The favourite, who often manages to look both ridiculous and terrifying at the same time, made his way to the ring wearing a diamond-encrusted crown and mask and a stare designed to put the fear into his opponent. Breazeale, in the opening moments, was spirited and gutsy and displayed all the machismo required to give his opponent the best chance of laying him flat.
The champion is at his most dangerous when his rivals are within arm’s length and, as Breazeale carelessly pawed out his jab, a looping right hand crashed into his face. The underdog, after just 95 seconds, was hurt and retreated to a corner. Deontay lost all composure as he tried to land the finisher.
It was a familiar sight: Opponent hurt and covering up; Wilder swinging like a maniac.
But Breazeale threw back and wobbled Wilder with a right of his own. Oh, the drama of a heavyweight gunfight.
Thirty seconds later it was all over. Perhaps assured he could take Wilder’s power, or perhaps simply careless, Breazeale strolled towards Wilder with his chin unguarded. The champion’s left acted as both decoy and rangefinder before his destructive right hand provided the one-punch finish. It bulleted from his shoulder and slammed into his rival. The punch was loud, violent and perfectly executed.
What’s more, it would likely have finished any heavyweight.
Joshua, the WBA, IBF and WBO champion, defends his belts in New York’s Madison Square Garden on June 1 against Andy Ruiz Jnr. Should the Briton dismantle his opponent as anticipated, we can expect the screams for a Joshua-Wilder showdown – negotiations for which have failed numerous times – to reach fever pitch.
Already people are saying Wilder might be too strong and quick for Joshua after the manner in which he demolished Breazeale. After all, “AJ” took seven rounds to halt the same opponent in 2016. But if we apply the same logic to Joshua’s two-round bludgeoning of Eric Molina in the same year and compare it to Wilder needing nine rounds against the same opponent, then we’re simply left with an unmissable contest between two hard-hitting unbeaten heavyweights.
“It will happen,” Wilder said about the Joshua showdown. “It’s our obligation to give the fans what they want. When the negotiations come round again, we will make it happen.”
Whether a rematch with Tyson Fury happens, the other heavyweight in the equation and the man responsible for the sole blot on Wilder’s 41-0-1 (40) record, is unknown. Unfortunate not to get the decision over Wilder in December last year despite being dropped heavily in the last round, the Englishman stepped back from negotiations for the return when Bob Arum and ESPN swooped and signed Fury to a long-term deal.
The self-proclaimed ‘lineal’ champion – whether he is or not is an argument for another day – now takes on the unproven Tom Schwarz on June 15 in Las Vegas.
“I understand what Tyson Fury did,” Wilder said. “When you get dropped on the canvas like that I understand you have to get yourself back together. That’s what he did. But that fight will happen. The rematch will happen.
“Like all these other big fights are going to happen. I know a lot of people want to know when the Joshua fight is going to happen. The great thing is all these fights are in discussion. No doors are closed. All teams, all parties who are involved are talking.”