Dominic Breazeale’s patience being tested

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Heavyweight contender prepares for Saturday’s PBC on FOX bout despite being no closer to a title fight vs Deontay Wilder than when he became the WBC’s mandatory challenger 13 months ago.

Dominic Breazeale thinks about the heavyweight championship daily, doing his best to hide his frustration. It’s been 13 months since he became the mandatory challenger to Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title.

Yet he’s no closer to fighting for that belt than the day he beat Eric Molina for the right to do so.

Breazeale remains steadfast. After months of struggling to find an opponent, this Saturday, December 22, he takes on Puerto Rico’s Carlos Negron (20-1, 16 KOs) at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The fight opens a PBC on FOX tripleheader (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT) in the first event of a newly-revamped series with the broadcast TV giant.

Naturally, Breazeale is favored to win. But if the past year has taught him anything, it’s to take nothing for granted.

“I’m not looking past Negron,” he said. “We’re all dangerous and one punch can change everything. But at the same time, my motivation is to become heavyweight champion of the world.”

Breazeale must table that for now. He expected to face the winner of the December 1st bout between Wilder and lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, but since the fight ended in a thrilling 12-round draw, and an immediate rematch is likely, Breazeale finds himself among yet one among several bridesmaids.

This wasn’t what he had in mind when he and his wife mapped out his pro career six years ago. Boxing wasn’t his first love. Football was his passion growing up in Alhambra, California. After shattering quarterback records at his high school, Breazeale became the starting signal-caller for the University of Northern Colorado and even had a tryout with the New York Giants.

Fate intervened when a boxing recruiter called the 6-foot-seven, 255-pound giant with the powerful right arm and suggested he switch to the sweet science. Breazeale ignored him initially, but when he didn’t hear back from NFL teams, he reconsidered, taking up boxing at age 23.  

As it turns out, this foray wasn’t just fate, it may have been destiny.

Following the death of his mother, Breazeale discovered that his late father was once a successful amateur boxer. The younger Breazeale went even further, winning the 2012 U.S. National Super Heavyweight championship and competing in the summer Olympics that same year.

That November, he turned pro. Breazeale won his first 17 bouts before challenging Anthony Joshua for the IBF heavyweight belt in June 2016. He was game—and had his moments—but ultimately lost via seventh-round TKO.

“Since that loss, my motivation has been to get the rematch,” he said. “And the only way I can do that is getting my own belt, something he’ll want to capture. If I’m a beltholder, he’s going to have to fight me.”

Breazeale, now 19-1 (17 KOs), bounced back, stopping Izu Ugonoh in February 2017. Later that night, he and Wilder—who headlined the card—were involved in a hotel lobby scuffle. Since then, Breazeale has been itching to get his hands on him inside the ring. As luck would have it, he became Deontay’s mandatory challenger later that year.

I want Wilder. That will be all-out war. I think I end the fight with a body shot because I don’t think he takes shots to the body well. Heavyweight Contender Dominic Breazeale

Despite having to watch Wilder-Fury from the sidelines, Breazeale admits to thoroughly enjoying the bout.

“I thought it was great,” he said. “I thought Fury won on points. But you never want to see the belt change hands to a guy who was dropped hard twice like that so it was hard to give Fury the win. I don’t know how he got up from that knockdown in the twelfth, but it’s kind of hard to award a championship when he got dropped twice like that.

Breazeale is no stranger to the canvas. Yet he’s shown heart and toughness, rising from early knockdowns versus Ugonoh and Amir Mansour to come back and stop them. Now, more than ever, he needs that resilience.

“My issue is that I’ve been sitting in the on-deck circle waiting to be called up to hit for over a year now and it could be this time next year that I’m actually fighting for the heavyweight title.”

Nevertheless, Breazeale says the time away from the ring has done him some good. He’s maintained an intense workout routine during that time, working with trainer Manny Robles to improve his fundamentals, specifically his defense and movement.

“After my last fight in November last year, I took off probably two weeks from the gym. Then I came back and was there 3-4 times a week, was with my strength and conditioning coach every single day. I’m a completely different fighter now. I’m much readier now to compete for a world title.”

Breazeale has spent 10 weeks in camp preparing for the former 2008 Olympian, Negron. Like Fury, Negron’s movement and slickness belie his sculpted, stout 6-foot-six frame.

“We brought in guys like him; who tend to move a lot, almost like a cruiserweight would,” Breazeale said. “It really worked in my favor. I’m always used to being the big, dominant guy who stalks you and now I’ve got the legs under me to move in a lighter style.”

If victorious, Breazeale expects to take another fight, possibly on the Wilder-Fury 2 undercard, rather than sit on his mandatory challenger position. While he won’t commit to who he thinks will win the rematch, he does have a preference for who he wants to face.

“I want Wilder,” he said. “That will be all-out war. I think I end the fight with a body shot because I don’t think he takes shots to the body well and no one has really put pressure to his body. For the first couple rounds, I think I’ll be focused on breaking him down, body-wise, so when I do land a shot upstairs, he’s not getting up.

“It’s been hard waiting this long. But it’s only made me better. I can’t wait to show everyone what I’m coming with now.”

For a closer look at Breazeale vs Negron, check out our fight page.

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