The two-time heavyweight title challenger is back with a new trainer, a new regimen and a new attitude as he prepares to face unbeaten Otto Wallin Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
Dominic Breazeale knew what was coming. He didn’t really have to brace himself for what he was about to see. Still, he winced at what happened to him mere hours ago.
Breazeale saw himself drop his left hand. He cringed when then-WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder landed the short, blunt right hand on his chin that spelled the end in the first round of his title challenge in May 2019.
Almost two years later, Breazeale still carries that frustration.
The 35-year-old, two-time heavyweight title challenger knew he was better than what he witnessed on tape the same night it happened. Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) knew he lost that fight for all of the wrong reasons. He knows someone will have to pay for the mistakes he made, and that someone may be Otto Wallin (21-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday night in a 12-round co-feature on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) from the Mohegan Sun Arena, in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“Psychologically, it probably took me two or three days to get over the Wilder loss and settle in,” recalled Breazeale, who possesses a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Northern Colorado. “Being at home with my wife and three kids took a lot of the emotional part away. I was able to recover a lot faster than I thought. I was convinced someone would have to pay for this.”
Ten days later, Breazeale was back in the gym. He has a new trainer, renowned coach Abel Sanchez, a different physique and new outlook.
“I learned from the mistakes I made against Wilder, after watching that fight over several times,” Breazeale said. “You learn far more about losses than you do when you win. The physical shape that I’m in, the mental shape I’m in, that will show up on fight night. I wish I did this a lot sooner. Otto Wallin is going to realize he bit off more than he could chew Saturday night.”
A week from the fight, Breazeale was walking around at 262 pounds, which is slightly heavier than what he normally weighs 10 days prior to a fight. He’s normally around 255. Fight night, he says, he’ll be around 250-252.
He’s doing more plyometric training, weight training and weight-vest work. Breazeale vowed people will know he was training when they see him step on the scale for the weigh-in on Friday.
“A lot of stress is gone with what I’m eating and why I’m eating it, and I feel a lot better at this weight, and I sleep a lot better and feel a lot lighter on my feet,” Breazeale said. “I’m not stressing when I look at myself in a mirror. This is who I am, and this is how I feel.
“ Otto Wallin is going to realize he bit off more than he could chew Saturday night. ” Heavyweight Contender - Dominic Breazeale
“I’ve been doing a lot more cardiovascular work than I’ve ever done up here at Big Bear (California). I even joked about it with Abel that I’ve probably done more running than I ever have in my whole career. My lungs are feeling it. My legs are feeling it. I probably ran more miles in one month than I have in my whole career. Sparring 10 or 12 rounds is a piece of cake.”
Breazeale is nauseated by blowing the chance to shine in a big moment on May 18, 2019. As he walked through the bowels of Barclays Center that night before he entered the ring against Wilder, Breazeale wore an intense look on his face. It was if he fought Wilder before he even put on his trunks.
In a way, he did.
“I was more or less an emotional wreck in the sense that I'm thinking more about what I wanted to do, as opposed to sticking with a game plan and doing what I needed to do,” Breazeale said in a very candid moment. “I involved myself too much in what everyone else was saying about me outside the ring, as opposed to sticking to what I had been working on the last 10 weeks leading into that fight.
“I lost that fight for all of the wrong reasons—I did. I have to hold myself accountable for that. I needed to stay focused and my mind wasn’t focused at all. I’m usually pretty relaxed when I go into a fight. I like being calm, cool and collected. I wasn’t that night—and saw that when I watched the replay of the fight later that night.
“I learned I need to relax more prior to a fight. I learned I need to stay more focused and keep my emotions under control. When I do that, I don’t think anyone can beat me.”
Breazeale says he wants to fight three times this year—starting with a big victory over Wallin. Sanchez re-introduced Breazeale to being uncomfortable again. That meant running added miles when he did not always feel up to it and sparring more rounds when his body was telling him otherwise.
“I needed that, because with Abel, it’s his way or the highway, and he’s gotten me back to that stage of being uncomfortable again, how crazy that is to say,” Breazeale said. “I’m in camp with him, and of course I’m used to going home after training, but because everything is here, he controls everything.
“There were days in the past when I told a trainer that I didn’t feel good that day. I wasn’t going to run. Abel doesn’t care, you’re going to work. I like that, because as a fighter you can get lackadaisical. When I came up here, I thought I was in great shape and I found out in week one that I wasn’t. I want that to translate into a whole new Dominic Breazeale, and I want the world to see that I’m back.”
For a closer look at Dominic Breazeale, check out his fighter page.