By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – After barely missing with right hands that could’ve ended their fight, Dominic Breazeale blasted Carlos Negron with one of those thudding shots to the side of his head in the ninth round Saturday night.
That punishing punch sent Negron to his knees and eventually into the ropes, face-first. Referee Arthur Mercante Jr. quickly realized Negron shouldn’t continue and waved an end to their scheduled 10-round heavyweight fight at 1:37 of the ninth round at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Breazeale immediately made his way to where Deontay Wilder was seated at ringside and called out Wilder. The 33-year-old Breazeale, of Eastvale, California, is the mandatory challenger for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title.
The 6-feet-7, 256½-pound Breazeale improved to 20-1 and produced his 18th knockout. The 30-year-old Negron (20-2, 16 KOs), of Villalba, Puerto Rico, lost by technical knockout for the second time in his career.
Seven years after suffering a surprising third-round technical knockout loss against Epifanio Mendoza (then 31-12-1), the 6-feet-6, 226-pound Negron at least provided a tough test for Breazeale.
In the round before their fight ended, Breazeale complained Negron hit him behind the head with just over one minute remaining in the eighth round. Mercante didn’t grant him a break, so when the action resumed, Breazeale promptly hit his opponent behind the head.
Mercante warned Breazeale, just as he had done earlier in the fight for rabbit punches.
After not doing much in the two previous rounds, Negron clipped Breazeale with a left hook about 1:10 into the seventh round. Breazeale landed a stiff jab and followed with a right hand later in the seventh.
Breazeale landed a chopping right hand to the side of Negron’s head with about 1:10 to go in the sixth round.
Breazeale connected with two overhand rights with just under 1:15 to go in the fifth round. Negron, bleeding from a cut along the bridge of his nose, didn’t have as much success offensively in the fifth as he did during previous rounds.
Negron unloaded a hard left to Breazeale’s body toward the end of the fourth round. He then went after Breazeale, but Breazeale made him pay by blasting Negron with a hard right hand that wobbled Negron just before the bell sounded to end the fourth.
Negron, building on the momentum he established during the second round, landed a crisp left-right combination early in the third round. Breazeale came back to nail Negron with a left-right-left combination later in the third.
Negron turned southpaw to befuddle Breazeale in the final minute of the third round.
Negron drilled Breazeale with a left hook right after the midway point of the second round. Negron landed two stiff jabs later in the second round that stopped Breazeale from coming forward.
Negron hit Breazeale twice after the bell sounded to end the third round. Breazeale retaliated by hitting Negron with a hard right hand.
Mercante finally stepped between them and issued warnings, but he didn’t deduct a point from either fighter. Breazeale and Negron also came together to acknowledge the infractions before heading back to their respective corners.
Negron and Breazeale both ended long layoffs Saturday night.
Negron hadn’t fought since he stopped Derric Rossy in the fourth round of their June 2017 bout. His hiatus was caused in part due to the damage Hurricane Maria did to his native Puerto Rico last year.
Before battling Breazeale, he spent much of 2018 serving as Luis Ortiz’s primary sparring partner in Miami.
Breazeale ended more than a one-year layoff Saturday night. He hadn’t boxed since beating Eric Molina by technical knockout 13 months ago at Barclays Center.
Also on the card, 2012 United States Olympian Terrell Gausha (20-1, 9 KOs) snapped a 14 month layoff with a first round knockout of Joey Hernandez (27-4-1, 17 KOs). In his last fight, Gausha lost a twelve round unanimous decision to Erislandy Lara.
2016 Nigerian Olympian Efe Ajagba (8-0, 7 KOs) demolished Santino Turnbow (4-4, 3 KOs) in the first round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.