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Deontay Wilder makes statement in victory

Deontay Wilder
Amanda Westcott/Showtime
Deontay Wilder blows away Dominic Breazeale in warning to rivals. Jack Hirsch reports from ringside

OF course the most logical way to determine heavyweight supremacy would be for the ‘big three’ to box each other – but in the absence of that we are reduced to comparing their performances against lesser opponents. For now at least, it is Deontay Wilder who has laid claim to being the best heavyweight in the world. Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury will have the opportunity to make their own statements in the coming weeks, but no matter what they do it’s not likely to top Wilder’s electrifying first-round knockout of Dominic Breazeale at The Barclays Center on May 18 in front of 13,110 (PBC promoted).

The comparison game is often deceiving, as we learned years ago when another heavyweight terror, George Foreman, obliterated Joe Frazier and Ken Norton, who had both defeated Muhammad Ali, yet came unglued against The Greatest in Zaire. However, the fact that Alhambra, California’s Breazeale went into the seventh round with Joshua in his only other defeat speaks volumes for how devastating a puncher Wilder is.

There is not the slightest doubt that the man from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, making the ninth defence of his WBC title, would have hunted Breazeale down no matter what strategy he employed, but the challenger made the job easier by moving forward. It was like trying to get to a destination by driving through a hurricane rather than detour around it.

Breazeale was defiant and had to be prodded by Wilder to do the customary touching of gloves after receiving referee Harvey Dock’s instructions.

From the start Breazeale moved forward poking out harmless jabs. Wilder conceded some ground but soon had Breazeale reeling across the ring and into a corner from a pair of long rights. Wilder pounced looking to finish the job, but Breazeale fought the champion off, forcing him back. Wilder was temporarily unsettled, but quickly regained his composure.

It would violently end shortly after, when Breazeale threw a lazy left uppercut. Wilder’s straight right got there first, delivered with such force that the crowd gasped upon impact. Breazeale went down on his side and rolled onto his back arms spread out wide.

Everyone knew the fight was over, but Dock gave Breazeale the same courtesy that Fury was extended when dropped by Wilder, and started to toll the count. While Fury somehow regained his feet in time, Breazeale did not quite do so, getting up shortly after 10, then staggering back into the ropes in a testament to Wilder’s explosiveness. The time was 2-17.

Wilder, who had been reprimanded by the WBC for saying reprehensible things about what he planned to do to Breazeale, was gracious afterward, giving him an extended hug.

“The big fights will happen,” said Wilder referring to the Fury rematch and Joshua. “I just want you to have patience.” Spoken like a man in a position of strength.

Deontay Wilder
Action Images/Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

Gary Russell Jnr successfully defended his WBC featherweight title, stopping Kiko Martinez at 2-52 of the fifth round. Now the question is if he’ll take a sabbatical until 2020.

For you see, since 2015 the Capital Heights, Maryland boxer has been on a one-fight-a-year schedule. For a man of his talents the lack of inactivity is unacceptable. But it certainly did not adversely affect him against Martinez. a man he dwarfed in the talent department.

The Spaniard, a former belt-holder, has been in with the best, but his talent level is so far below Russell’s that he did not pose a serious threat. Martinez marched forward at all times and tried to make a fight of it, but the much quicker southpaw champion picked him apart with a stream of jabs and jolting uppercuts sending sweat flying off his head.

Late in the fifth round a punch opened a sudden laceration over Martinez’s left eye. The blood streamed and referee Ricky Gonzales called time; after the ringside physician inspected the wound it was stopped.

A fast-paced 10-rounder between Las Vegas’ Juan Heraldez and the Dominican Republic’s Argenis Mendez ended in a majority draw. I had them level 95-95, as did judges’ John Basile and Kevin Morgan. Julie Lederman saw Mendez in front 97-93. Johnny Callas refereed.

Floyd Mayweather, who promotes Heraldez, was in attendance rooting for his man, and the similarities of the two were there to see. Heraldez was elusive, very quick, and exhibited an outstanding jab, but Mendez kept on task and started to connect more as the fight went on. Mendez’s late surge got him a draw, but Heraldez seems to be the one with more upside moving forward.

Iago Kiladze and Robert Alfonso battled to a split eight-round draw in a heavyweight contest. It appeared that Kiladze, from Los Angeles, had shaded his Havana opponent, but the pace was lacking until the later rounds. Robert Perez scored 77-75 Alfonso, John Stewart 77-75 Kiladze, and Ron McNair 76-76. Shada Murdaugh refereed.

Unbeaten Philadelphia prospect Dylan Price got more than he bargained for in his scheduled six-rounder with Manuel Manzo, a fighter with a losing record.

Faster and more athletic, Price hit Manzo with everything he had, but the Mexican fought back fiercely. With Price continuing to land big blows from mid-ring, referee Mike Ortega halted this bantamweight battle at 1-34 of the fifth.

Brooklyn’s Richardson Hitchins stopped Colombian Alejandro Munera at the end of three rounds of a welterweight eight. Munera was dropped in the third round and his corner did not allow him out for the fourth. Danny Schiavone refereed.

The Verdict Wilder makes emphatic statement but Breazeale’s careless approach plays right into his hands.

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