This Saturday, it’s Heavyweight time, as the champ Deontay Wilder (40-0-1; 39 KO) defends his WBC title against Dominic Breazeale (20-1; 18 KO). Showtime Championship Boxing Wilder vs. Breazeale takes place this Saturday, May 18 and airs live on Showtime with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET.
- The champ. Kind of. - Deontay Wilder is the WBC champ, and so often is presented as the Heavyweight champion of the world. And this is true. He is a Heavyweight champion. But he is not THE Heavyweight champion. He holds one slice of the pie; Anthony Joshua holds 3. Then there’s Tyson Fury out there, who technically holds none, but is the lineal champ, which, depending on your view, might actually be the only thing that matters.
- Matchmaking - For years, Wilder was matched soft, brought up slowly against easy out opponents. 2018 was very different as he faced Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury in a pair of very memorable and exciting fights. Those were serious, serious challenges, and he faced them. But now he’s back to fighting someone outside the top 10 again, and the criticisms return. People want him against Joshua, they want him against Fury again. And until those happen, anything else will feel hollow.
- Power vs. technique - Wilder’s power is close to unmatched in the sport. He has brutal power and he uses it well. Only two men have ever gone the distance against him. One was Bermane Stiverne, who Wilder then thrashed in a rematch. The other was Fury, who summoned insane reserves to get off the mat in their fight. But that power often comes at the expense of good technique, as Wilder can be prone to wild windmilling - letting his defense completely (and I mean COMPLETELY) fall apart to go all in for the KO. It’s obviously worked so far though.
- Star power? - For years (and years) boxing in this country has been looking for a US Heavyweight champion to try and bring the sport back to those Tyson/Holyfield days of glory. Wilder is the closest we’ve had to that since, well, Holyfield. His PPV debut against Fury sold surprisingly well, showing there’s a public interest in him. He’s not a household name - not by a long shot - and I don’t know if he can get there. But he does bring a marketability X Factor to the table that can’t be ignored.
- Try #2 - This is the same point I lead with for Julian Williams last week. Breazeale has had one prior shot at a world title, losing to Anthony Joshua in 2016. He gets try #2 here. With Heavyweight being spread between promoters, there’s always a need for challengers, so a loss here doesn’t forever curse Breazeale, but it would be a setback. I don’t give him much of a shot, but I didn’t give Williams much of a shot either, and he made the most of that opportunity.
- Lost momentum - It’s been three years since that Joshua fight, and in that time, Breazeale is just 3-0. He beat Eric Molina in November 2017, which is a solid victory, then missed basically all of 2018 before returning in 2018 to defeat the unimpressive Carlos Negron. That time has dropped Breazeale out of the top 10, and understandably so.
- The Joshua fight - Breazeale represented the US in the London Olympics, and that was, in large part, the basis for the Joshua fight. Breazeale didn’t do terribly bad in that fight, making it to the 7th round (at the time, only Dillian Whyte had managed to take Joshua past the 3rd). But much of his praise in that fight focused on his heart and toughness, and when that’s what you are getting praised for, it means you are losing. Badly.
- “Revenge Factor” - There’s a lot of trash-talk and what certainly seems like legitimate bad blood here. And for Breazeale, that seems to be his primary motivator. He wants revenge on Wilder for what he sees as disrespectful and unacceptable behavior. Will that emotion drive him to be his best, or will it drive him to fight recklessly and make mistakes?
What else is on the card?
- Gary Russell Jr (29-1, 17 KO) vs. Kiko Martinez (39-8-2, 28 KO) - Gary Russell is the WBC Featherweight champ and one of the best in the world, whose lone blemish came against Lomachenko. But for whatever reason, he just doesn’t like to fight very often - this will be the 4th straight time he comes in off a one year layoff. Martinez is a solid veteran who had had plenty of big fights against the likes of LSC, Frampton, and Quigg. And he’s lost them all. A Martinez win here would be an insane upset.
- Juan Heraldez (16-0, 10 KO) vs. Argenis Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KO) - Neither man is ranked, but this is a good fight in the Super Lightweight division. Heraldez is on the rise, but taking a good step up against a fighter who has some momentum. This feels a bit like a really good ShoBox main event, which I mean as a compliment.
Wilder is the big favorite and he should win this, but I expect it will be an entertaining ride to get there. Both guys can punch, and when you add in the emotional aspect, it could get a little heated. I doubt we’re in for a master class in technique, but that’s not what you come to a Wilder fight for anyway, so sit back and let him do his thing.
Prediction: Deontay Wilder, KO round 4