Wilder reads 'body language' well to KO Breazeale early

Deontay Wilder punishing Dominic Breazeale in Saturday's one-sided bout at the Barclays Centre in New York.
Deontay Wilder punishing Dominic Breazeale in Saturday's one-sided bout at the Barclays Centre in New York. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Undefeated Deontay Wilder brutally knocked out Dominic Breazeale in the first round of their grudge match on Saturday night to retain his World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight world title.

The American, who has one of the most destructive right hands in heavyweight history, floored the challenger with a one-punch knockout with 43 seconds left in the opening round at the Barclays Centre.

He swarmed Breazeale from the opening bell, hurting him with a straight right hand, before finishing him off later in the round with a devastating right to the chin that was set up by a left jab.

In his post-fight interview, Wilder claimed he sensed his fellow American was there for the taking, saying: "When I hit him with the right hand the first time, his body language changed.

"When you been in there with so many different guys, you learn to recognise body language. I knew he was slowing down and opening up."

Breazeale barely landed a punch in the fight and his defence was non-existent as he walked right into the knockout blow, which initially left him motionless on his back.

Wilder improved to 41 wins and one draw with 40 knockouts. Breazeale, who had just one loss - to undefeated heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua of Britain - dropped to 20-2 with 18 knockouts.

There was bad blood between the two fighters heading into the bout, with the build-up marked by a series of macabre threats from Wilder, who had spoken of his willingness to "kill a man" in the ring.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has vowed to hold a hearing into the remarks, but Wilder, 33, made light of his death threats.

He added: "Everything just came out of me. There was a big build-up to this fight. There was a lot of animosity, a lot of chaos, a lot of hatred against each other. This is what makes boxing so great.

"When you get into a fight and settle your differences as men, that is what this sport is all about. We can handle this with our hands and, at end of the day, we can say we lived to see another day."

After joining boxing greats Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis to have made nine straight title defences, Wilder also addressed the potential super-fights on hand, including a rematch with Tyson Fury and a four-belt unification bout with Joshua, assuring fans they were imminent.

He said: "The rematch will happen. I know a lot of people want to know when the Joshua fight is going to happen. The great thing is all these fights are in discussion. No doors are closed. All teams, all parties who are involved are talking."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2019, with the headline 'Wilder reads 'body language' well to KO Breazeale early'. Print Edition | Subscribe