The historic win gives Wilder his ninth consecutive world title defense, four of which took place in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.
“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.”
Wilder and Breazeale’s rivalry sparked much pre-fight attention, despite the champion entering as the favorite by a considerable margin. And while the knockout was spectacular, the end result was far from shocking.
Leading up to the bout, Wilder had, on multiple occasions, voiced his desire to “put a body on his record.” While dark, the seriousness – and his highlight reel – suggested that the comment wasn’t to be taken lightly.
“His life is on the line for this fight, and I do mean his life,” Wilder said on ESPN’s First Take. “This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal, so why not use my right to do so?”
Breazeale said the comments never flustered him in preparing for the fight. (That was approximately 60 hours before Wilder left him sprawled out on the Barclays Center canvas.)
“Never did I wish harm upon anybody, but at the same time I’m a professional,” Breazeale said. “Wilder can do and say what he wants.”
But that’s all over now.
And as is often the standard in boxing, the immediate jump would be to ask “who’s next?” But in this instance, everyone knows who should be next: Anthony Joshua or Tyson Fury.
Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) currently holds the WBA Super, IBF and WBO World Heavyweight titles, and will actually defend them against Andy Ruiz (32-1, 21 KOs) in Madison Square Garden on June 1.
Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) became the Undisputed Heavyweight champion after defeating the now retired Wladimir Klitschko in November of 2015.
Fury subsequently retired and battled a drug addiction before returning in 2018, and challenged Wilder to a famed draw last December in his third fight back. Fury is scheduled to fight the unheralded Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) in mid-June.
The problem is that all three fighters are aligned with separate boxing promoters, and history suggests that Bob Arum (Top Rank/ESPN), Eddie Hearn (Matchroom/DAZN) and Al Haymon (Premier Boxing Champions/Showtime) will at least delay productive business negotiations for the foreseeable future.
It says a lot about the state of the sport when the thinking is that these fights that need to get made won’t. Wilder, who has publicly called out Joshua on countless occasions, insists that good things come to those who wait.
“The great thing is all these fights are in discussion,” he said. “The big fights will happen. I just want you to have patience.”
In the co-feature at Barclays Center on Saturday night, WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell, Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) put on yet another professional display to defend his belt for the fourth time against a valiant Kiko Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KOs).
Due to a gash that opened up over Martinez’s left eye, referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight in the fifth round upon the advice of the ringside physician, resulting in a TKO.
Russell, who was fighting for the first time in a year, showed no signs of ring rust and displayed his full skillset, including his trademark lightning quick hands.
The 30-year-old fighter was dominant from the opening bell and landed on a remarkable 40 percent of his power punches.
In an all-action fight with little downtime, Martinez did more than enough to play his part. The Spaniard constantly came forward, but Russell continued to target the cut that opened up over his eye after a right hook in the second round.
“I did pretty good,” said the 2008 U.S. Olympian Russell after the fight. “We stayed behind the jab and he couldn’t get past it. We knew that intellect over athleticism would get it done.”
Brooklyn native gets TKO at Barclays
Elsewhere on the card on Saturday night, undefeated prospect Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10 KOs) and former world champion Argenis Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KOs) fought to a highly competitive majority draw. Two judges scored the fight 95-95, while a third had Mendez winning 97-93.
Fighting in front of his mentor Floyd Mayweather, Las Vegas’ Heraldez controlled many of the early rounds by setting the pace and establishing his jab. But the 32-year-old Mendez, who has fought seven current or former champions, closed out the fight exceptionally strong, winning the final round on all three judges’ scorecards.
Without doing so, Mendez would have lost the fight.
“I thought I won the fight,” said a disappointed Mendez. “He didn’t do anything to me. If I have to prove I beat him in a rematch, I’ll be ready. I won’t leave it up to the judges.”
A battle between heavyweights Robert Alfonso (18-0-1, 8 KOs) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1, 18 KOs) ended in a split-draw after eight rounds of action.
While one judge scored the fight 77-75 for Alfonso, another had it 77-75 for Kiladze, with the third judge scoring it 76-76.
Also entering the ring was 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell (9-0, 9 KOs), the younger brother of Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr., who dropped Marcos Mojica (16-4-2, 12 KOs) twice to earn a stoppage 2:13 into the third round.
Rounding out the action was Brooklyn-native and 2016 Haitian Olympian Richardson Hitchins (9-0, 5 KOs), who scored a TKO of Alejandro Munera (4-2-3, 4 KOs) after Munera was knocked down in round three and unable to continue despite making it to the final bell of the round.