It wasn’t that a lump of coal was deposited in Dominic Breazeale's stocking. It was more like Santa used the thing as an air-sickness bag.
Dominic Breazeale (16-0, 14 KOs) was stoked about the fight on several levels: It was to take place on the big stage of prime-time network TV on NBC; a win would take him another step closer to his goal of a title shot; and, afterward, he could enjoy some holiday downtime with his family.
Context is crucial here: The month before Breazeale and Martin were set to square off, reigning division kingpin Wladimir Klitschko was upset by British behemoth Tyson Fury. Afterward, Fury announced that he was relinquishing one of his titles, choosing to pursue a possible rematch with Klitschko rather than face his mandatory opponent, Vyacheslav Glazkov.
And so the week that Breazeale was supposed to return to the ring against Martin, a fight was ordered between Glazkov and the next highest-ranked contender for the vacant title. That contender? The man Breazeale was scheduled to face days later.
With a title opportunity suddenly sitting in his lap, Martin dropped out of the bout with Breazeale to take on Glazkov.
Breazeale was shocked.
“It was definitely a surprise,” he says. “I was down in San Antonio, ready to fight that Saturday, and just got the call, ‘Hey man, Charles Martin’s not showing up. He pulled out of your fight to take another fight.’ I had no idea.”
Initially, there was talk of finding a replacement opponent for Breazeale, but since he had spent more than two months preparing for the southpaw Martin, there were no suitable subs available, and he didn’t want to fight a righty on such short notice.
“I hadn’t sparred any orthodox guy for about 10 weeks,” Breazeale says. “They found a couple of different guys for me to work with, but I’m not a guy to just take a fight with any ol' body. I want great competition, to boost my boxing level to the next tier. So I wasn’t going to take a last-minute guy.”
And so instead of getting to relax with his wife and kids over the holidays, Breazeale was right back in training camp.
Talk about getting kneed in the groin by St. Nick.
“I was still in the gym on Christmas morning, Christmas Eve, New Year’s Day, New Year’s Eve,” Breazeale says. “To me, it was just another day at the office.”
Still, Breazeale, a genial, laid-back dude who trains to the relaxing sounds of reggae music, isn’t bitter about the Martin fight falling though.
“It’s boxing,” he says. “We go through ups and downs all the time.”
Besides, it didn’t take long for Breazeale to land another golden opportunity, this time against human bulldozer Amir Mansour (22-1-1, 16 KOs) on Premier Boxing Champions’ prime-time debut on Fox on January 23 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT). Even better for Breazeale is that the fight takes place at Staples Center in his native Los Angeles.
Moreover, there’s a bright side to the shake-up at the top of the heavyweight division that caused his fight with Martin to be scuttled.
“Anytime the belts change hands like they have done, it’s great for young prospects like myself turning into contenders and hopefully getting a title shot in 2016,” Breazeale says. “I want to fight the best of the best. If I can get a shot at Deontay Wilder, Tyson Fury or the winner of the Glazkov-Charles Martin fight, I definitely want to take it.”
At 6 feet 7 inches and 250 pounds, the 30-year-old Breazeale is a large man. His ambitions are just as sizeable.
“At the end of the day, I want people to say, ‘Dominic won that belt; he didn’t just beat a guy who stepped aside,’” he continues. “I’ve got a big goal in mind.”
For full coverage of Breazeale vs Mansour, visit our fight page.