NEW YORK — In the acrimonious lead-up to heavyweight world titleholder Deontay Wilder’s defense against mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale, Wilder spent a lot of time talking about how much he wanted to hurt him.
Wilder even accentuated that he could legally kill his opponent in the ring, saying a few days before their fight on Saturday night that boxing “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?”
While Wilder didn’t cause that kind of damage, he nonetheless obliterated Breazeale with a massive right hand for a violent first-round knockout victory before an announced crowd of 13,181 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Wilder, one of the great punchers of all time, retained his world title for the ninth time as he scored one of the most spectacular knockouts in a career filled with them. It will undoubtedly be a candidate for knockout of the year.
The fight started with a bang and ended quickly after that.
A Wilder right hand hurt fellow 6-foot-7 giant Breazeale early and then he got another punch through that sent Breazeale toward the ropes. Breazeale shook his head and smiled as if the punch did not hurt him, but it was clear it had. Wilder was all over him and landing punches.
But Breazeale mounted a short rally in which he also landed a couple of right hands, one which knocked Wilder off balance, but Wilder was undeterred. He kept swinging in what was turning into a slugfest.
But it is not wise for anyone to bang with Wilder, who then unleashed a monstrous right hand that connected clean on Breazeale’s chin and dropped him hard on his back spread eagle.
Breazeale attempted to recover, but he was gone, and referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 2 minutes, 17 seconds.
The intense animosity between Wilder and (41-0-1, 40 KO), 33, of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs), 33, of Eastvale, California, stemmed from an incident in February 2017, when Wilder retained his title and Breazeale won on the undercard in Birmingham, Alabama. Later that night, there was a confrontation at the fight hotel between the fighters and their teams.
After the fight, however, the 223¼-pound Wilder, who was outweighed by 32 pounds against the 255¼-pound Breazeale, said it was now in the past with the fight over.