The top-rated contender looks to achieve his dreams while settling the score versus WBC World Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder Saturday night on SHOWTIME.
When Dominic Breazeale, underdog incarnate, ducks through the ropes on Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center to face American heavyweight kingpin Deontay Wilder, he will be the rare fighter with a legitimate grievance (i.e. not manufactured) to settle against his opponent.
The two square off for Wilder's WBC World Heavyweight Championship in a PBC main event, live on SHOWTIME (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Still, 33-year-old former Breazeale is aware that he cannot allow his personal antipathy for Wilder to get the better of him inside the ring. Fighting with anger, after all, is pretty much considered verboten in prizefighting.
“I don’t fight by emotion,” Breazeale, 20-1 (18 KOs), said after a light workout at Gleason’s Boxing Gym in Brooklyn on Wednesday afternoon. “If I did that I would be flushed and rattled by the end of the first round. I’m a professional athlete. I know what I can do and what I’m going to do. I’m going to carry myself round after round.”
Breazeale, to be clear, was speaking in reference to the recent macabre comments (even by boxing standards) made by Wilder the day prior. To wit, Wilder said, “[Breazeale’s] life is on the line for this fight and I do mean his life.”
Breazeale shrugged as he was reminded of the ludicrous statement.
“I think that’s a big antic,” Breazeale, who started boxing at the belated age of 24, scoffed. “He’s just trying to sell himself and build himself up. I’m not worried about it. He says a lot of crazy things and never acts on any of that stuff. It’s nothing that’s going to keep me up at night. It’s nothing I’m worried about Saturday night either.”
To say that Breazeale views the Wilder fight as nothing more than a matter of pure competition is a bit of an overstatement. As he puts it, he has a personal vendetta against Wilder that doesn’t figure to recede from his memory anytime soon.
“The bad blood is real. 100% real.”
According to Breazeale, the animus began on the night of February 27, 2017, after Wilder knocked out Gerald Washington in the fifth round of his fifth title defense at the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. Breazeale had also fought that night, against highly regarded Polish prospect Izu Ugonoh in what was a slugfest.
Breazeale tasted the canvas in the fourth round and looked to be on his way out, when he recovered in time to drop Ugonoh twice in the fifth. After his win, Breazeale joined his wife and three kids at ringside to cheer on Washington, a fellow football player-turned boxer, friend, and occasional sparring partner. That is when trouble began to brew.
“Little did I know that Deontay Wilder’s family was sitting to my left,” Breazeale recalled. “I had a guy that was muttering things into my ears — it turned out it was his brother as I found out after the incident happened — and this individual was telling me to shut the fuck up, you need to stop saying this and stop saying that.
“I looked over and I said, ‘my wife and kids are sitting here. I’d appreciate it if you stop what you’re doing.’”
The individual — Marsellos Wilder, a boxer himself — refused to listen, so Breazeale asked him again, in more terse terms.
“Stop what you’re doing or you’re going to get hurt.”
When the fight ended, Breazeale thought nothing more of the confrontation and took his family back to their hotel room where they freshened up to go out for dinner. They were going through the lobby, on the way to the restaurant, when Breazeale saw Wilder and his entourage coming through the door.
“My mindset was to congratulate him on his victory,” Breazeale said. “That’s what we do as professional athletes.”
Or so he thought. Wilder, Breazeale claims, began snapping at him and dropping the “f bomb.” And before he knew it, a melee broke out.
“I get to the point where I’m on the other side of the lobby trying to get on the elevator, trying to find my wife and trying to find my kids and I’m getting punched in the back of the head. On video, it’s his brother, running the hell out of nowhere. In the environment that we were in, with my wife and kids there, you don’t do that, man. It was very uncalled for. It’s still fresh in my mind like it was yesterday.
Breazeale filed a lawsuit shortly after the incident, and while it is still ongoing, he admitted it reached an impasse.
“The lawsuit has been stalled,” he said. “At this point I’m bringing justice into my own hands.”
Indeed, it has been a long two years for Breazeale, as he has repeatedly stewed over the events of that night. Too long perhaps.
“I’m sick of talking about the situation,” he said. “I can’t wait for Saturday night to come and have closure on (it). It’s gonna be a beautiful thing.”
For a closer look at Dominic Breazeale, check out his fighter page.