Deontay Wilder promised a knockout. And boy, did he deliver. The WBC champion put an end to Dominic Breazeale’s heavyweight challenge within one round.
With expectation and animosity at an all-time high, Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) made it his mission to finish it early, and he did just that.
Breazeale (20-2-0), who had just the one loss on his career, was caught early in the first round, before a right hand of his own caught an overly aggressive Wilder who was hunting the knockout.
Instead of looking to slow things down and reassess, Wilder did what he does best; landing a thunderous right hand that left a stunned Breazeale strewn on the canvas.
Breazeale would just about make his way to back his feet, before referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 2:17 of the first round.
“Everything just came out of me tonight,” Wilder, who recorded his ninth consecutive title defence, said post-fight.
“I know it’s been a big build up to this fight. There was a lot of animosity, a lot of chaos, a lot of hatred against each other … and it just came out tonight.”
Breazeale took Joshua seven rounds in 2016. Against Wilder, he couldn’t last three minutes.
He had downplayed Wilder’s power in the lead-up to the fight, saying heavyweights are supposed to hit hard. Breazeale should certainly be a believer now.
“When I hit him with the right hand the first time his body language changed,” said Wilder.
“When you been in there with so many different guys you learn to recognize body language. I knew he was slowing down and opening up.”
The pre-fight talk had been dominated by a series of macabre threats from Wilder, who had spoken of his willingness to cause a fatality in the ring.
In the aftermath of his win, Wilder somewhat walked back that message.
“I told him I love him,” Wilder explained when asked what he told Breazeale after the fight.
“I want to see him go home to his family. I know we say some things we mean sometimes. But then when you get into a fight, you settle your differences as men.”
Wilder was coming off a draw against Tyson Fury in December, the first fight of his professional career that wasn’t a victory. He wanted a rematch with Fury or a unification bout with fellow champion Anthony Joshua, but when those couldn’t be made settled for a mandatory defence of his WBC title.
As for what’s next, Wilder kept it simple; calling for patience from the fans.
“That fight will happen, the rematch will happen,” Wilder said of a potential Fury sequel, before addressing the Joshua unification bout.
“It’s going to take my team and his team,” Wilder said. “Maybe me and him [Joshua] as well to sit down and just handle this, and squash everything and get this fight done for the fans.
“This fight will happen, the big fights will happen, I promise you that.”