By Lem Satterfield
Heavyweight Dominic Breazeale crumbled 6-foot-6 Carlos Negron in a neutral corner on December 22 with a head-swiveling overhand right for a one-punch, ninth-round knockout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
In victory, the 6-foot-7 title challenger known as “Trouble” (20-1, 18 KOs) immediately leaned over the ropes and began shouting at ringside WBC champion Deontay Wilder, who stood and glared back at Breazeale as they exchanged words.
Breazeale entered the Negron (20-2, 16 KOs) fight ranked fourth-ranked behind Dillian Whyte, Tyson Fury and Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz in the chase for the crown owned by the 6-foot-7 Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs), who had battled to a draw on December 1 with lineal champion Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I really don’t think nothing of Dominic Breazeale,” said Wilder during a January 1 interview with BoxingScene.com. “I don’t even rate him. He’s an average fighter at best. I give him one-to-three rounds with me, but he don’t last long."
But he 33-year-old Breazeale had been listed as the mandatory prior to the 33-year-old “Bronze Bomber” even before his clash with the 6-foot-9 Fury, against whom Wilder failed to earn his eighth straight knockout in as many defenses.
“I know Wilder’s here in the crowd,” said Breazeale, a 2012 U.S. Olympian who recorded his third straight stoppage victory since losing by seventh-round TKO to IBF/IBO/WBA/WBO champion Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) in June 2016.
“He knows I’m next, and he’d better be holding on to that baby really tight because I’m coning for him. Trouble’s already here. I’ve been waiting for him and I did what I had to do tonight. I’m ready for him, now.”
Breazeale’s previous victories were consecutive knockouts of Izu Ugonoh and Eric Molina on Wilder’s undercards in February and November 2017.
Breazeale 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.
“Dominic Breazeale’s got a corny attitude, a corny swag, and nobody believes in him or anything that he says,” said Wilder. “He tries to come up with a way of talking himself up and hyping up a fight with me, but he ain’t even good at that. He’s one of those guys that just talk and talk but he can’t back up what he talks.”
After defeating Ortiz (30-1, 26 KOs) by three-knockdown, 10th-round TKO in March, Wilder chose Fury, and their likely return bout has received the blessing of WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman. If not Wilder-Fury II, Sulaiman seems to favor a Wilder-Joshua unification, according to a report by Tris Dixon of BoxingScene.com.
“I don't see me fighting Dominic Breazeale next, but if I had to, there's a difference between my skills and his that is like the difference between day and night," said Wilder.
"Dominic would be very easy work for me. I see that as a one- to three-round fight. That fight could be a first-round knockout, but definitely three rounds or less, because he’s too slow, and when I land a punch against him, he’s going to go down, no question about it. Trust me on that.”