‘I’m ready for Wilder’s power,’ says Brezeale ahead of title showdown
‘I will feel his power and smile at him… and he will think, “oh s***”‘: Dominic Breazeale insists he’s unfazed by Deontay Wilder’s dynamite fists ahead of world title clash in New York
- Dominic Breazeale has insisted he is ready to handle Deontay Wilder’s power
- The two heavyweights collide in New York on Saturday for the WBC world title
- Breazeale also believes he has matured since his defeat against Anthony Joshua
Step forward the next giant in line for a dynamite blasting from the Bronze Bomber.
‘Don’t worry about me,’ says Dominic Breazeale as he braces himself to confront WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in New York on Saturday night.
That self-reassurance is the response to a reminder of how Wilder flattened Tyson Fury so violently that the Gypsy King’s semi-conscious staggering to his feet was likened to the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale collide in New York on Saturday for the WBC world title
‘I’m ready for Deontay’s power,’ says the 6ft 7in Californian. ‘I will feel it and smile straight back him. And as the guy who prides himself on knocking everyone out he will then think… “oh, s***”.’ That trades into the Fury and Anthony Joshua narrative that unless Wilder lands one of his obliterating right-handers he lacks the ring-craft to impose his will and authority on their unholy trinity.
The flaw in that reasoning is that Breazeale was knocked out when he came to London to trade hefty blows with Joshua who, hard though he surely punches, does not possess the single-blow detonation of Wilder.
But Breazeale has no option other than to believe he has matured now to the point where he can out-box the Bomber.
Breazeale insists he can handle Wilder’s power – ‘I will feel it and smile straight back him’
So he says of the night three years ago when Joshua inflicted his only defeat: ‘The difference between me now and the Breazeale who fought Joshua is night and day. I am so much more complete and well-rounded. I know now why I am choosing certain shots, not just throwing punches.
‘I wouldn’t exactly say I was rushed into challenging AJ but I went into my first world title fight when my mental skills were not there. Physically I was fine. Not strategically. But that loss has proved to be one motivation for me to grow, to not only knock people clean out but in some cases clean out of the ring.’ Another, more deeply personal, incentive is the bad blood between himself and Wilder.
This boiled over on a steamy southern night in Birmingham, Alabama when Breazeale went to watch Wilder defend his WBC world heavyweight title and to call him out.
A shouting match followed back at the hotel where they were all staying and Breazeale took exception to Wilder screaming threats and menaces ‘in front of my wife and kids.’
Wilder floored Tyson Fury in the last round of their dramatic and controversial draw last year
Now, on the eve of them hurling hammer blows at the Brooklyn Center rather than insults in the lobby, he says: ‘That was out or order. So I want to teach Deontay a lesson. To knock out the puncher. To shut his big mouth once and for all. To knock him into retirement, as well as making my own impression on world heavyweight boxing.’
That outburst seems out of kilter with this gentle giant who began his sporting life in the three major US college sports. Breazeale was the starting quarter-back for the University of Northern Carolina football team and distinguished himself also at basketball and baseball.
Those activities plus his ambition of becoming a US Olympian – where we had our first glimpse of him as a qualifying-round loser to a Russian in the London 2012 Games – made him a late starter as a professional.
Breazeale recalls: ‘As my college football career was ending I was told I would be picked by one of several interested NFL teams in the third round of the draft. At the same time I was approached to try boxing. I thought it was an odd idea but I went to the gym to give it a try and a trainer told me I could become world heavyweight champion.’
Breazeale was knocked out when he came to London to trade hefty blows with Joshua
So although he is not only the same height as Wilder but also the same 33 years of age, Saturday night in the Big Apple brings only his 22nd paid fight. That is barely half as many as Wilder, who is bidding to join Muhammad Ali amid other legends in the elite heavyweights who have racked up a ninth consecutive successful world heavyweight title defence.
Yet while Fury is the only one of his 42 opponents who Wilder has failed to KO, Breazeale believes he can beat Manchester’s linear champion as well.
Fury recovered from two knock downs – the one in the 12th round almost decapitating – to become the only man to take Wilder the distance or to deny him victory. Many, Breazeale among them, support his contention that he deserved better than the draw.
‘I thought Tyson won,’ says Breazeale. ‘But that was because he is as an astonishing athlete for a 6ft 9in man of his size. That makes him exceptional defensively and very sound all round.
‘But with my background in football and basketball I’m an even more complete athlete than Tyson and I wouldn’t have the same trouble as Wilder had catching up with him and landing my punches.’
The American believes he’s matured as a fighter since then and can upset Wilder in New York
For good measure, Breazeale is convinced also that he will defeat Joshua second time around and be the odd man outside the big three to become the next undisputed heavyweight champion.
He says: ‘I am driven by two desires. One to get revenge on Wilder for the bad way he behaved in front of my family. Second to gain rebuttal against Joshua for my only loss.’ The betting odds are heavily against him beginning that process this weekend.
Although with the hat-trick of seemingly routine heavyweight title fights in the offing, he would appear to have the better outside chance of an improbable upset against Wilder than Andy Ruiz Jr against Joshua or Tom Schwarz against Fury.
Undeterred, Breazeale says: ‘We quarter backs grow up used to getting smashed around by big hard men… and beating them.’
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