By Lem Satterfield
Heavyweight title challenger Dominic Breazeale is baffled by his fourth-ranked position behind Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury and Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz in the chase for Deontay Wilder’s WBC crown.
So on Saturday, the man nicknamed “Trouble” (19-1, 17 KOs) plans to violently release his frustrations upon Carlos Negron (20-1, 16 KOs) of Puerto Rico at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on FOX (8 p.m. ET/ 5 p.m. PT).
“If we stick to the game plan, which is to be defensively sound, in the heavyweight game, the knockouts always come,” said Breazeale, 33, a native of Southern California who trains under Manny Roblesat The Legendz Boxing Gym in Los Angeles.
“I’ve stayed in the gym over the past 13 months, and we’ve been having great sparring in camp. The Barclays Center's a great venue. The fight fans always turn out, and they’re expecting heavyweight knockouts. So I’m gonna set it up, and when it’s there, I promise you I’m gonna take full advantage.”
The 6-foot-7 Breazeale (19-1, 17 KOs) will be after his third straight stoppage win against the 6-foot-6 Negron following Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) battling to a draw with lineal champion Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) on December 1 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Breazeale figured himself to be the WBC’s mandatory to the Wilder-Fury winner, last losing by seventh-round TKO to IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) in June 2016.
Breazeale moved into the WBC's No. 2 spot and figured he was next for the 6-foot-7 Wilder following back-to-back knockouts of Izu Ugonoh and Eric Molina on "The Bronze Bomber's" undercards in February and November 2017.
He rose from a fourth-round knockdown to stop the previously unbeaten Ugonoh in the fifth round on the undercard of Wilder doing the same to Gerald Washington at Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama, and scored an eighth-round knockout of Molina in his last fight on the undercard of Wilder’s three-knockdown, first-round KO of Bermane Stiverne at Barclays Center.
But after defeating Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs) by three-knockdown, 10th-round TKO in March, Wilder chose Fury.
Their likely return bout'sreceived the blessing of WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman.
“I’m upset that I have to wait," said Breazeale. "I understand that [a rematch] is already in the works right now because of the situation with the draw, which benefits Wilder."
If not Wilder-Fury II, Sulaiman seems to favor a Wilder-Joshua unification, according to a report by Tris Dixon of BoxingScene.com.
“I have been on record for more than a year about Joshua, and I have been supporting Joshua to fight for the WBC title, to unify the heavyweight division. Unfortunately it didn’t happen when it could have happened. Both fighters took the wrong route. But the WBC will continue to support the idea of unification," said Sulaiman,
"But the WBC has ruled in favor of a [Wilder-Fury] rematch and we have our mandatory contender situation that also has to be addressed. I am certain that Joshua will eventually fight for the WBC championship in the near future and I am certain that the heavyweight division will have interest in it that we have been waiting for for decades. There are great fights to be done in 2019 and hopefully all of the fighters that have been mentioned will be involved in the WBC championship.”
That statement angers Breazeale.
"The actual thought of the WBC president already sanctioning the fight, and that he wants Anthony Joshua to fight for [his heavyweight championship?]" said Breazeale.
"I understand you want all of the top heavyweights to fight for your belt, but you kind of have to draw a line. I’m the WBC mandatory, therefore, I should get the next shot title shot and not be pushed aside because the WBC president wants to see another opponent fight for [the WBC] belt."
The 6-foot-6 Joshua's expected ringside at The O2 Arena in London for Saturday’s rematch of Whyte’s split-decision over Dereck Chisora in December 2016. Whyte (24-1, 17 KOs) is after his ninth straight victory and fifth knockout during the time since falling by seventh-round TKO to Joshua in December 2015. Whyte is coming off July’s unanimous decision over former WBO titleholder Joseph Parker (25-2, 19 KOs).
The 6-foot-9 Fury is 2-0-1 since November 2015, when his unanimous decision dethroned a 39-year-old Wladimir Klitschko, ending “Dr. Steelhammer’s” 11 ½-year reign at at 22-0 (15 KOs) and making “The Gypsy King” the lineal and IBF/WBA/WBO champion.
Fury returned to the ring from drug and mental issues for June’s fourth-round stoppage of Sefer Seferi before August’s unanimous decision over Francesco Pianeta and his Wilder fight.
On the Wilder-Fury undercard, Ortiz won by 10th-round knockout of Travis Kauffman, representing the Cuban southpaw’s second straight stoppage since falling to Wilder by three-knockdown, 10th-TKO in March.
“King Kong” Ortiz rebounded with a second-round stoppage of Razvan Cajanu, who had lost his previous fight in May 2017 by unanimous decision to the then-unbeaten Parker. Ranked fifth behind Breazeale, Parker lost his WBO crown in March by unanimous decision to Joshua.
Breazeale has Negron, a 31-year-old pursuing his eighth straight knockout since a third-round stoppage loss to Epifano Mendoza in September 2011. Breazeale knocked out Mendoza in the first round in December 2014.
In victory, Breazeale would like a face-to-face with Sulaiman.
“I’d like a sit down in front of Mauricio and say, ‘Hey, can you tell me how this ranking system works, because I’ve sat and waited my turn, yet you rank me No. 4 but you call me the WBC mandatory,” said Breazeale. “’I mean, shouldn’t I be ranked No. 1?’ I would just ask him to explain that to me, because, you know, I’ve been the WBC mandatory for a little over 13 months.”