After a fight week filled with controversy as Wilder came under fire for threatening Breazeale’s life inside the ring and sharing his hope to one day add a dead body to his record, the Alabama-born slugger showcased his scary and historic power in the opening round.
“Everything just came out of me tonight,” Wilder said. “I know there was a lot of words and animosity against each other and it just came out tonight. This is what makes boxing so great when you can have so much inside and just overcome.”
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Shortly after a fun sequence in which both 6-foot-7 giants traded hard punches in the center of the ring, Wilder used his incredible 83-inch reach to get full extension on a right cross that turned Breazeale’s chin and splattered him across the canvas.
Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), who appeared to be knocked out cold as he laid spread eagle, began to come to his senses near the end of referee Harvey Dock’s count. The native of California, who is nicknamed “Trouble,” rose to his feet shortly before the count of 10, but Dock waved off the fight after looking into his eyes.
“I think the ref stopped it a little early because I could hear him saying seven and eight, but that’s boxing,” Breazeale said. “He did his job and kept us safe for our next fight. I got on my feet and had my legs under me. It’s the heavyweight division so there’s going to big shots from guys with power.
“This was a situation where [Wilder] landed the big right hand before I did. I thought I was going to come on in the later rounds. I’ll be back and go for the heavyweight title again.”
Despite the bad blood between them leading up to the fight — which included Wilder advising Breazeale to have his family make funeral arrangements — the two shared a hug after the fight. The beef which began two years ago with a melee in an Alabama hotel lobby appeared to be squashed.
“I just told Breazeale I love him and of course I want to see him go home to his family,” Wilder said. “I know we say some things but when you can fight a man and then you can hug him and kiss him, I wish the world was like that. We shake hands and we live to see another day and that’s what it’s all about.”
Wilder, who came in 12 pounds heavier than he did for his disputed draw with lineal champion Tyson Fury in December, showed a few new wrinkles in the early going as he landed a left uppercut to the body. A pair of hard right hands backed Breazeale up to the corner but the challenger proved to be game and fought his way out with a pair of hard right hands that led to an exciting two-way exchange before the finish.
“I saw him slow up a little bit,” Wilder said. “When I hit him with the right hand the first time his body language changed. When you’ve been in with so many guys, you can recognize body language.”
Wilder was initially in negotiations to face Fury in a spring rematch until the native of England signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank that brought his services exclusively to ESPN. Wilder also continues to spin his wheels in a multi-year courting to face unified champion Anthony Joshua that has yet to come to fruition.
“I understand what Tyson Fury did,” Wilder said. “When you get dropped on the canvas like that I understand you have to get yourself back together. But the rematch will happen, like all these other fights will happen. The great thing is all these fights are in discussion. The big fights will happen. I just want you to have patience.
“You know what the saying is, good things come to those who wait.”
Should Wilder prove unable to draw fights with Fury or Joshua in 2019 due to political and network entanglements, a rematch against Cuban slugger Luis Ortiz could be likely for the fall. Ortiz, who rocked Wilder before succumbing to a knockout loss in their exciting 2018 bout, entered the ring after the fight to approach Wilder.
“I want to congratulate Deontay Wilder on a great performance,” Ortiz said. “I came here from Miami to see this fight. I don’t know if that will be next. Deontay Wilder is the only one who can say for sure if that fight is next.”