Deontay Wilder showed off his almost freakish one punch power as he knocked out Dominic Breazeale in well under three minutes to retain his WBC Heavyweight strap. In his Wilder’s ninth defence of his title, he rocked his game opponent early at the Barclays Centre before delivering one of the brutal heavyweight knockouts in recent memory. Wilder’s victory served as a microcosm for much of his time as WBC champ. A quiet opening minute sprung to life as Wilder caught Breazeale with a typically big right hand and the Bronze Bomber then hurried to finish the job but in doing so got caught by a desperate overhand right from his wounded opponent.
Wilder was actually forced to hold as he legs wobbled a touch before regrouping and after the referee seperated the two men from a clinch, Wilder delivered a right hand from the ages, that will no doubt go down as late night YouTube fodder for years to come. The Alabama native almost took a small run up before delivering a punch that sent his opponent straight into the starfish floor position and the fight was rightly called off as Breazeale staggered to his feet. After that infamous draw with Tyson Fury back in December which followed a topsy turvy win over Luiz Ortiz, Wilder may have felt he needed send out a statement to the both the rest of division and the boxing world. And he certainly did that as the Barclays Center and indeed the internet went wild over a victory that some compared to the classic heavyweight demolitions delivered by one Mike Tyson.
Whether that comparison is premature or not, it’s clear that America has a top level, exciting and extremely dangerous heavyweight for the first time, well since Iron Mike. Wilder, as was shown versus a still ring rusty Fury, can be out-boxed. However it’s clear he possesses one punch power that is a level above his touted future opponents. Saturday’s casual fan friendly win will no doubt push a fight with Anthony Joshua even further, if that’s possible. Wilder claimed after the fight that the unification fight Joshua ‘fight will happen’ however also used words the words patience and added he has ‘obligations to fulfil’ which once again hint that fight won’t happen anytime soon. And as ever Wilder, at the age of 33, may want to go for glory sooner rather than later before the huge current demand for the fight fizzes out and also make sure he doesn’t get beat in the meantime. Which of course goes for all of the heavyweight big three (alongside Dillian Whyte), as their differing TV networks/streaming platforms and promoters try to put their differences aside and get the mega fights made.
From New York to Stevenage next where Billy Joe Saunders won the vacant WBO super-middleweight title at the Lamex Stadium versus Shefat Usufi. After a torrid 2018 for a number of reasons, this was Saunders’ first proper fight in almost eighteen months, though under new trainer Ben Davidson he looked as sharp as ever. A typically slick and evasive Saunders showed his class in the early rounds, having both a spring in his step and a renewed snap in his punches. In front of a local home crowd he looked to finish the job in the middle rounds however was caught with big right hand in the sixth that seemed to deflate his vicious intentions and instead he (and likely his new trainer) choose to simply see the fight out to a wide points victory.
Though the level of opponent was not what you expect when winning a world title, Saunders is now a two weight world champion having moved up from middleweight after claiming the likes Alvarez Canelo and Gennady Golovkin didn’t want any part of him. Now he’s up at super-middle many will look to a possible fight with fellow Brit Callum Smith who defends his WBA title versus Hassan N’Dam on the June 1 AJ card. As big a fight as that would be, Saunders is a natural middleweight and might be best served to drop back down so that his superb boxing ability is not too heavily equalised by simply being the smaller man in the ring. Though in truth, whatever weight Saunders fights at, if he keep himself fit and out of trouble outside of the ring he still has time to compete at the level his ability indicates he should.
Moving north of Hadrian’s Wall, native Scot Josh Taylor won the IBF world title from Ivan Baranchyk in their World Boxing Super Series semi final at the Hydro in Glasgow. After a tense, back and forth first series of rounds, Taylor took control in the sixth knocking his opponent down twice which proved pivotal as despite a 180 second throwing of the kitchen sink by Baranchyk in the twelfth, Taylor survived to earn a brilliant points win to earn his first world title in front of a frenetic Glasgow crowd.
It was a historic night for yet another 2012 Olympian who’s profile will now rise significantly after flying under the radar under the wise tutelage of trainer Shane McGuigan. And as big as UK boxing is at present, Scotland as a standalone nation needs more nights like it had on Saturday and Taylor will look to fly the flag once in the World Super Series Final versus WBA and WBC champ Regis Prograis. And despite Taylor going into that unification fight as underdog, win or lose, it’s Scotland evident has a new hero to cheer.
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