Deontay Wilder emphatically got back into the win column Saturday night, knocking out Dominic Breazeale with an overpowering right hand in the first round to defend his heavyweight title.
Wilder hurt Breazeale with a right to the head early in their fight at Barclays Center, but the challenger had recovered from that early onslaught. But there was no coming back from the right later in the round that immediately dropped Breazeale, who was trying to get up as referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 2:17 of the round.
Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) was coming off his draw against Tyson Fury in December, the first fight of his pro career that wasn’t a victory. He wanted a rematch with Fury or a unification match with fellow champion Anthony Joshua, but when those couldn’t be made settled for a mandatory defense of his WBC title.
He ended it quickly, finishing off Breazeale (20-2) after being pushed hard in each of his last two fights.
“Everything just came out of me tonight,” Wilder said.
Wilder weighed in at a little more than 223 pounds, a gain from the 209 he was at for the Fury fight but still well below the 245 he set as a goal after feeling he was too small in that bout.
He doesn’t need any more pounds as long as he still has one of the most feared right hands in boxing.
Breazeale had downplayed Wilder’s power, saying heavyweights are supposed to hit hard. But he should certainly be a believer now.
He was challenging for a heavyweight title for the second time, having been stopped by Joshua in the seventh round three years ago in Britain. He said he had learned and grown from that fight, but there’s nothing that could have prepared him for what faced in Brooklyn.
Wilder and Joshua was the fight just about everyone in boxing would prefer to see, but so far it’s been all talk without seriously moving close to action.
Joshua will be making his U.S. debut at nearby Madison Square Garden on June 1, so perhaps they could try again afterward to negotiate a bout.
Wilder easily put aside the letdown of not fighting Joshua or Fury again because of his anger toward Breazeale over an altercation involving family members at an Alabama hotel in 2017. He went as far as to tout his ability to kill a man in the ring, remarks for which WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman said would be addressed by the organization in a hearing.
Wilder was coming off tough tests in his last two bouts, getting rocked by Luis Ortiz in their March 2018 fight in this arena before stopping the Cuban in the 10th round, and needing a knockdown in the final round to secure the draw with Fury.
He looked like a picture of peace as he carried his young daughter into the arena about three hours earlier, but was back to making his case as boxing’s baddest man once the fighting started.
In the other title fight on the card, Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) defended his piece of the featherweight title when the referee stopped his bout with Kiko Martinez (39-9-2) late in the fifth round on the advice of the ringside doctor because of a bad cut over the challenger’s left eye.