Dominic Breazeale returns to old trainer for new focus on high-octane offense

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His fists used to be like the DMV, or psychotherapists in the presence of Gary Busey: busy, always.

Dominic Breazeale

Dominic Breazeale is focusing on increasing his punch output as he prepares to fight Amir Mansour on Saturday. (Jerry Gonzalez/Team Breazeale)

Back in the day when heavyweight prospect Dominic Breazeale (16-0, 14 KOs) was making his way through the amateur ranks en route to a spot on the 2012 U.S. Olympic team, the towering fighter threw more than 100 punches a round, a work rate that would leave most big dudes in need of an oxygen mask, if not a defibrillator.

To put that number into perspective, the heavyweight average is 46 punches per round, according to CompuBox.

Recently, Breazeale has stepped off the gas a bit: In his last outing against Fred Kassi in September, he averaged 55 punches per round.

But heading into his fight with Amir Mansour (21-1-1, 16 KOs) in Los Angeles on Saturday (Fox, 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), Breazeale is looking to once again punch the accelerator—among other things—and he’s brought in a familiar face to help him do so: former trainer Manny Robles, who worked with Breazeale in his amateur days.

“That was one of my big things coming back to him: I said, ‘Hey man, let’s get my punch output back up there,’” Breazeale explains. “I was averaging 35-40 punches a round as a pro, which isn’t bad, but if you get a heavyweight throwing over 100 punches a round in the professional game, he’s going to be dominating.”

Breazeale’s clash with Mansour will be his first fight with Robles back in his corner, and the fighter says that the difference is already noticeable: He's no longer rifling his jab; he’s machine-gunning it.

“Instead of me just shooting one jab at a time, now I’m shooting three and four, setting up my punches,” he notes. “I’m no longer just sticking one shot out at a time or looking for my guy to jump in and then countering him. I’m being the active aggressor, somebody who’s got a game plan behind what they’re doing.”

Breazeale is the one and only heavyweight that Robles has trained, which may give some fighters of Breazeale's size pause. Instead, the former Olympian believes it works to his benefit.

“People always ask me, ‘Why would you do that? He’s never trained a heavyweight before in his life,’” Breazeale says. “Because I’m already naturally big and strong and athletic, why am I going to focus on the things I already know how to do? I might as well go ahead and try to fight like a little guy.”

Well, he’s already got the footwork down, as he’s exceptionally agile for a 6-foot-7, 260-pound man.

Breazeale cites his background in football—he played quarterback at the University of Northern Colorado—for heightening his ability to move around the ring so well.

“Playing quarterback, sitting in the pocket, there are a lot of times when you’ve got to scramble, whether you use the backdoor or you step up in the pocket or whatever it may be. It’s the same thing for boxing,” he says. “Nowhere in the rulebook does it say that a big, strong guy can’t be athletic and move fluidly in that ring. Little guys do it all the time, and they’re very successful at landing shots and combinations.

"My feet are going to get me into a situation, and they’re going to get me out of a situation. Of course, my hands do the devastating work, but hands and feet work together.”

Brezeale intends to use that synchronicity to outwork Mansour, testing his chin and stamina alike.

“I’m a big, strong guy, but a big, strong guy throwing six-, seven-piece combinations,” he says. “Now we’re talking about a dedicated boxer.”

For complete coverage of Breazeale vs Mansour, visit our fight page.

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