On Saturday, May 18, one of boxing’s most recognizable names will return to the squared circle, as WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) is set to defend his title against top contender Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18 KOs) live on Showtime from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 33-year-old Wilder, looking to make the eighth-straight defense of his title, experienced quite a unique entry into the sport of boxing. In fact, he didn’t try his hand at the sweet science until he was 20 years old, which is a bit later than most high-level fighters.
After taking up boxing in 2005, however, Wilder won a bronze medal at the 2008 Olympics and then turned professional in November of that year. And throughout his professional career thus far, “The Bronze Bomber” has established himself as one of the best Heavyweights in the world.
In regards to his resume, Wilder owns two victories over Bermane Stiverne, a comeback victory over Luis Ortiz, and a controversial draw against Tyson Fury last December in which he knocked down “The Gypsy King” twice and nearly finished him in the final round.
Stylistically, Wilder has relied on his pure athleticism and power in addition to his height to steer him towards success throughout his career. Standing 6’7” tall, Wilder is an incredibly long fighter, but he also possesses the type of power in his right hand that simply seems to stun his opponents.
In fact, 39 of his 40 professional victories have come by way of knockout with 18 of the 39 coming in the very first round. That type of finishing rate can also be attributed to Wilder’s incredible killer instinct. Once he has an opponent hurt, he typically goes berserk looking to find the finish with some having even labeled him as being wild at times.
On some occasions, this “wildness” can be a positive, as the type of pressure that Wilder inflicts on a damaged opponent has often overwhelmed his opposition and led to a finish. On the contrary, however, this type of style can also lead to him steering away from his technique and his defense and to leaving himself open to various shots.
Moving onto Breazeale, the 33-year-old American, like Wilder, entered the sport of boxing later than most. After playing quarterback at the University of Northern Colorado, “Trouble” began boxing at the age of 23.
In regards to his amateur career, Breazeale also qualified for the Olympic games, competing at the 2012 Olympics in London. Though unlike Wilder, he didn’t find much success, losing in the first round and failing to medal. He then made his professional debut a few months later.
Since turning pro, Breazeale has won 18 of his 21 fights inside the distance, while only suffering one defeat. After slowly building through the ranks and compiling 17-straight victories, Trouble earned a shot at unified three-belt champion Anthony Joshua in 2016, though he came up short and was stopped in the seventh round.
Since that fight, Breazeale has won three-consecutive fights over the likes of Izuagbe Ugonoh, Eric Molina and Carlos Negron in order to land the fight against Wilder.
Like The Bronze Bomber, Breazeale is an incredibly tall fighter, also standing 6’7”, though he’ll be at a slight reach disadvantage. Stylistically, the challenger is a strong and powerful puncher, but his fighting style is rather straight forward, as he often looks to walk his opponents down in an aggressive manner and look for big shots.
At times, Breazeale has telegraphed his shots a bit and he isn’t the most creative boxer when it comes to movement, angles or putting together combinations, but he does indeed have a sharp jab and strong right hand that have made him a dangerous threat.
Ultimately, I feel as if this is Wilder’s fight to lose. In boxing, and specifically the Heavyweight division, one shot is all it takes and Breazeale does indeed pack a punch, but I simply see The Bronze Bomber as the more experienced and far superior fighter.
As long as he can keep his emotions in check and not let the bad blood between the two have a negative impact on him in the ring, Wilder’s speed, power and overall skill set will likely be too much.
Expect the champion to finish the fight in the middle-to-later rounds.