UNBEATEN heavyweight contender Dominic Breazeale vows to make IBF world champion Anthony Joshua ‘sorry’ for selecting him as his first title defence on June 25.
The pair will clash at the O2 Arena in London, a venue Watford man Joshua has turned into his fortress having fought there six times, the most recent of which being his title-winning demolition of Charles Martin in April.
American Breazeale, fighting in London for the first time since the 2012 Olympics, is aware the odds are against him but remains unfazed.
“I think Joshua’s thinking of me as a stepping stone and he’s going to be sorry about that. He’s just wrong. I mean, he’s fighting a guy at 6-foot-7, 255 pounds that brings the pressure and a great pace from round-to-round. I’m one of those guys that I might take a shot, I might work some defense, I might work a strong jab,” he said.
“Either way, I’m going to make it a fight. All of my opponents have been down on the canvas and I don’t think Joshua is going to come shy of that as well.
“I’m going in as the underdog, I’m going into an arena with 20,000 opposing fans. I’ve been picked as the smaller guy in the ring, by the IBF as a stepping stone and I feel like my back is against the wall. I’m going to come out fighting.”
Joshua won super-heavyweight gold at London 2012 while Breazeale lost in the preliminary round against Magomed Omarov.
Joshua outpointed Roberto Cammarelle in the closely-contested final, a bout Breazeale believes the Italian had the better of.
“I think, in general, he’s kind of had a little bit of a stepping stone as far as fighting in the Olympics in his backyard, having the judges there in his backyar,” he continued.
When he fought in that final match for the gold medal, I was sitting third row and I hands down believe that [he lost]. But you know, when you’ve got judges on your side, in your own country, the Olympics in your own country, it looks better when the home native wins.
“Even as a professional, he fought a guy in Charles Martin that really didn’t show up fight night. Charles Martin himself had an easy road and path to the title with the whole slip and fall against [Vyacheslav] Glazkov.
“When you think of a heavyweight champion you want to make sure he’s fought the best, and I think that’s why Joshua has chosen me as his opponent to defend against. That’s what he plans on getting out of the situation if he can make it through the 12 rounds. I plan on putting on some extreme pressure and taking Joshua to a new level of boxing, and we’ll find out June 25.”
The Californian has only gone the distance twice in 17 outings, an eight-round shutout of Nagy Aguilera in 2014 and a fortunate 10-round win over Fred Kassi last September.
Conversely, Joshua has only been taken beyond the third round once, when he hammered Dillian Whyte inside seven in December, resulting in just 34 rounds of professional action and a reputation as one of the biggest punchers in the sport today.
However Breazeale plans on taking Joshua to places he has never been before in a professional ring.
“I want him to feel uncomfortable at all given times of the fight, every second of every round,” he mused.
“Yes, he’s got rid of a lot of his guys in the earlier rounds, he hasn’t gone into deep waters. Do I want to see him go into uncharted territory? Of course, without a doubt.
“I’ve been there, I know what it feels like and I’ve done it several times now. At the same time, I’m not going to let an opportunity pass me. If I see something I can take in the first, second round I’m definitely going to get him out of there.”
In his last fight Breazeale found himself on the deck for the first time as a pro when Amir Mansour tagged him in the third. Mansour was forced to retire after the fifth round due to a freak injury to his tongue and jaw, handing Breazeale – who had been struggling – the win.
Although the flawed victory has perpetuated Breazeale’s underdog status, the 30-year-old is pleased to have such experience under his belt.
“It’s just another confidence booster. It’s one thing to finish a guy in the first round with three punches or something like that. It’s another thing to finish a guy in the sixth, seventh round with a combination of shots and finally you come out of an experienced fight with a guy like Amir Mansour where he puts you down on the canvas in the second and you’re thinking to yourself ‘damn what did I get myself in to?’ and you come back, battle back and you end up breaking the man’s jaw,” he said.
“”Whether people are going to say, ‘Amir was going to beat you, he was ahead on the cards,’ then again he’s got a broken jaw and he’ll probably never fight again. It’s one of those things. I can go to bed at night thinking to myself, you know what, that’s another mission accomplished, another stepping stone, let’s move on to the next one.
“It gives me something to work on. I know I’ve been down on the canvas, I know I was able to come back and be very successful from it. Anytime you get a win of that matter where you get a guy, break him down, break him down where he quits on the stool it’s a huge confidence booster. It makes you understand as an athlete or as a professional boxer that you’ve got punching power, you just broke another man’s jaw.”
Before boxing, Breazeale found success as a quarterback playing American Football for the University of Northern Colorado.
He had just over 30 amateur bouts before qualifying for London 2012, and he turned over a few months after the Games.
“To go over and win in London the IBF title is a major stepping stone I plan on achieving, and then I plan on continuing to go after all the titles,” he said.
“My mindset has definitely changed. This is an opportunity I have been working for the last eight years. I dabbled around in boxing as a 23-year-old, and here I am at 30 getting ready to turn 31 and it’s progressively getting better and better, day after day, camp after camp, fight after fight.
“The situation that I’m in now mentally is just different compared to some of my fights in the past. My confidence level is through the roof. And physique-wise I feel great.
“For me, I think my football background is going to come in hand when fighting on the road in London. Anytime you get on the football field and you play quarterback, let’s say you’re down by 20-30 points and all the fans are booing, throwing popcorn at you, there’s nothing that you can teach a man or an individual to gear up for a situation like that. But I’ve been there, done that. Fighting in front of 20,000 fans will be nothing new for me.”