By Jake Donovan
With the amount of money being offered by various promoters and outlets, it’s no surprise that Deontay Wilder’s next fight could very well land on Pay-Per-View.
It doesn’t mean the defending heavyweight titlist has to embrace such a concept.
Next up for Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) will be a World Boxing Council (WBC)-mandated title defense versus mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale. Preliminary discussion has the bout landing on May 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
On what platform it is aired hasn’t yet been decided, nor will it likely be resolved for at least another week. The unbeaten fighting pride of Tuscaloosa, Alabama has been aligned with Showtime for the past several years, mixed in with showcase bouts on Fox and NBC through adviser Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) series.
It was believed that Showtime would be the hosting network for his fight with Breazeale (20-1, 18KOs), but those plans were altered once the price went up for Wilder’s services. An offer made by Top Rank and ESPN was ultimately rejected, but the $12.5 million he stood to make in the first fight under such a deal certainly wasn’t lost on Wilder.
The bidding war is far from over, as the defending titlist and his team are reportedly planning to meet with the head brass at sports streaming service DAZN. Even if he rejects such an offer out of loyalty to PBC—and by extension, Showtime and Fox Sports—whatever price tag that will come with his decision to remain put is already threatening to push his upcoming title defense into the PPV market.
Wilder made his Showtime PPV debut last December, fighting to a 12-round draw with Tyson Fury in a fight where a pair of late knockdowns were the difference in retaining his unbeaten record and heavyweight title. Extended talks called for a planned rematch to go that same route, only for Fury to bail, instead taking his services to ESPN and its platforms.
The success of their first fight—which generated in the vicinity of 325,000 PPV buys—created a marketplace for their planned rematch. Perhaps not quite as in demand is his upcoming mandatory title defense. If the A-side of the promotion had his way, PPV wouldn’t even be in the discussion.
“Pay-Per-View for me is definitely those big moments, those special magical moments for fights that people have to see. Breazeale don’t fit that bill,” Wilder readily admitted when asked during a recent interview on Tha Boxing Voice podcast. “Nobody knows Breazeale. He tries to play that tough man role, but his voice ain’t even deep enough for starters and he ain’t got no swagger.”
Breazeale enters the fight on the heels of a 9th round knockout of Carlos Negron last December, which aired live on Fox from Barclays Center. The Californian also appeared at the venue in Nov. ’17, knocking out Eric Molina in the very fight which earned him the mandatory challenger position for Wilder, who on that same show obliterated Bermane Stiverne in the 1st round of their Showtime-televised rematch.
Wilder and Breazeale appeared on the same show earlier in the year, in separate bouts on a Fox telecast from Birmingham, Alabama. Both won by knockout—Breazeale climbing off the deck to drop and stop previously unbeaten Izaugbe Ugonoh in five rounds, which is how long it took Wilder to take out previously unbeaten Gerald Washington.
A post-fight incident between their camps in a nearby hotel lobby is what helped ignite the years-long rivalry, with the two finally on course to settle their differences in the ring. Since it came to this, Wilder would love for as many people as possible to bear witness.
“I would definitely much rather fight Breazeale on (free-to-air) Fox,” Wilder notes. “Let’s get the (viewership) up. I’d love to go on Fox and fight Breazeale.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox