Wilder joins the pantheon of heavyweight greats, making the ninth defense of his WBC World Heavyweight title with an explosive first-round KO over Dominic Breazeale Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
Deontay Wilder calmly, coolly entered the warrens of Barclays Center Saturday night with his daughter in his arms and a tranquil smile prior to making the ninth title defense of his WBC World Heavyweight title.
Not long after, Dominic Breazeale came through the same area, a stern look on the challenger’s face and an underlying feeling he might have been clenching up before he even put on his trunks.
That said it all.
“The Bronze Bomber” was confident and relaxed ahead of the main event on SHOWTIME Championship Boxing. Breazeale was tight and anxious.
It didn’t take long for that to manifest itself in the ring.
Wilder grabbed his 20th first-round knockout, when he splashed Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) over the canvas with a devastating, blunt right hand on the chin that spelled the end at 2:17 of the first round before a crowd of 13,181. Referee Harvey Dock probably didn’t have to count.
“Everything just came out of me tonight,” Wilder said. “I know it’s been a big build up. There’s been a lot of animosity and a lot of words that were said and it just came out of me tonight. That’s what makes boxing so great.
“I just told Breazeale I love him and of course I want to see him go home to his family. 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.”
Did the Breazeale victory ease the December draw he had against Tyson Fury?
“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, good things come to those who wait.”
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) knew the first time he landed a right, Breazeale’s body language changed. The former college football quarterback wasn’t on his feet for long after that.
“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’s ninth successful title defense places him in the rarified company of heavyweight greats Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier and Lennox Lewis, just to name a few.
What was also important is that this came in the first round. Breazeale’s other loss was also a stoppage defeat, but it took Anthony Joshua seven rounds to do it in June 2016.
Afterward, Breazeale was in a little denial.
“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 he 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.”
Gary Russell Jr. Stops Kiki Martinez in five
Fighting for the first time in a year, Gary Russell Jr. showed no rust in making his fourth title defense of the WBC World Featherweight Championship.
Kiki Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KOs) could do little against the faster, craftier, stronger Russell, who notched a TKO win at 2:52 of the fifth due to a severe cut over Martinez’s left eye.
Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) was never challenged.
The third round proved to be the most telling. The southpaw Russell bounced a heavy left off the side of Martinez’s head. By the end of the round, a cut began opening over Martinez’s left eye. Martinez was able to score with a few shots, one a left hook to the body in the last minute of the third, although was largely ineffective.
“I did pretty well,” Russell said. “We stayed behind the jab and he couldn’t get past it. We knew that intellect over athleticism would get it done.”
With :07 left in the fifth, referee Ricky Gonzalez waved Martinez to his corner, blood flowing from his left eye. Gonzalez, on the advice of the ringside doctor, ended it at 2:52.
“We want (WBA Featherweight Champion) Leo Santa Cruz,” Russell said. “We want to make this fight happen. The fire is all the way hot on this side of the field. You will get burned. I would love for that fight to happen this year. Let’s make it happen.”
Juan Heraldez and Argenis Mendez end in a majority draw
It was a classic battle between rising contender and cagey veteran. Heraldez, 28, 16-0-1 (10 KOs), had gone 10 rounds twice as a pro. Mendez, 32, had gone 10 rounds and beyond 11 times in a 32-fight career that’s spanned 13 years.
Mendez (25-5-3, 12 KOs) was coming off a split-draw against Anthony Peterson in March. Heraldez splashed a fighter in seven rounds who lost his previous two.
Though much of the 10-rounder was tactical, the final three rounds featured a lot of activity, when it appeared Heraldez was coming on. Each fighter had their chances. Mendez did well working the body and forcing Heraldez to back up at times. Heraldez used a steady jab, then would unload a heavy shot, as he did in the eighth, when he smacked Mendez in the face with a straight right.
In the ninth, Heraldez, using his jab as a range finder, landed a flush right to the face. Mendez fought a dominating 10th, briefly buzzing Heraldez. Heraldez was on his bicycle as the fight came to an end.
Ultimately, Heraldez discovered he can stay with a more experienced foe but needs more refining. Judges John Basile and Kevin Morgan scored it 95-95, overruling judge Julie Lederman, who thought Mendez had won, 97-93.
“I thought I won a close decision,” Heraldez said. “I didn't think it was a draw. He didn't do anything that hurt me at any point. I could have gotten started a little earlier. I could have boxed him and thrown more punches in the early rounds.
It was the second-straight draw for Mendez, who left the ring visibly angry.
“I thought I won the fight,” Mendez said. “He didn't do anything to me. How did he win the fight? My speed and my power made it difficult for him. I thought my counterpunching was really good.
In other undercard action: Bantamweight Gary Antonio Russell (14-0, 12 KOs) won a technical decision over Saul Hernandez (13-13-1, 8 KOs), which was stopped at 2:38 of the sixth due to an accidental headbutt in a scheduled eight-rounder.
Bantamweight Dylan Price (8-0, 6 KOs) stopped Manuel Manzo (4-7-2, 2 KOs) at 1:34 of the fifth in a scheduled six-rounder.
Junior welterweight Richardson Hitchins remained undefeated by forcing Alejandro Munera (4-2-3, 4 KOs) to quit after three rounds. Hitchins (9-0, 5 KOs) was awarded a TKO 3 in a scheduled eight-rounder.
Former U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell (9-0, 9 KOs) dropped Marcos Mojica (16-4-2, 12 KOs) twice in the fourth round, en route to a fourth-round TKO. Russell, a southpaw lightweight, put Mojica down with a right hook the first time and knocked him down with a straight left the next time. Referee Mike Ortega saw enough and waved it over at 2:13 of the fourth in what was a scheduled eight-rounder.
In a scheduled eight-round heavyweight fight, Robert Alfonso (18-0-1, 8 KOs) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1, 18 KOs) fought to a split-decision draw. There was no major issue with the decision, since both fighters had their moments.
For a closer look at Wilder vs Breazeale, check out our fight night page.