Wilder v Breazeale: WBC world heavyweight title on the line after acrimonious build-up

Wilder and Breazeale meet at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Wilder and Breazeale meet at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn
Deontay Wilder v Dominic Breazeale
Venue: Barclays Center, Brooklyn Date: Saturday, 18 May (Sunday, 19 May at about 04:00 BST)
Coverage: Live text commentary on BBC Sport website

Dominic Breazeale says he will mentally break Deontay Wilder and ensure the WBC world heavyweight champion never wants to lace up boxing gloves again.

Breazeale, 33, challenges his fellow American on Saturday after an acrimonious and controversial build-up.

The pair were involved in a scuffle at a hotel in 2017 and Wilder has drawn fight-week scrutiny for comments about killing an opponent in the ring.

"I am Deontay Wilder's retirement plan," said Breazeale.

"I will beat him so bad that he is not going to want to ever lace up the gloves again. When I am done with him the mental aspect of boxing is going to be completely beaten out of him.

"This belt is everything to me, it's my Super Bowl."

Wilder's next landmark?

Wilder, Joshua and Fury all box in the next month
Wilder, Joshua and Fury all box in the next month

BBC Sport will run a live-text commentary of the Barclays Center bout from around 04:00 BST on Sunday morning, as Wilder, 33, looks to extend his record of 40 wins and a draw from 41 bouts.

BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Mike Costello said: "There's a stat doing the rounds this week which says that in history - 135 years or so of the heavyweights - Wilder will be making his ninth defence of the world title. If he wins he will be only the 10th man to make that many consecutive defences at heavyweight. Some great names have not done it.

"On those nights, even if the man in the other corner is by some opinion underrated, you still have to get it right on the night all of those times, regardless of your personal life or what tweaks you may have had in training."

Wilder in no mood for friends

Wilder starts as a 1-10 favourite with bookmakers against Breazeale
Wilder starts as a 1-10 favourite with bookmakers against Breazeale

Wilder will need to block out widespread criticism for his fight-week comments from the likes of Frank Bruno, Nigel Benn and the World Boxing Council, who have summoned him to a hearing for his comments on death in the boxing ring.

In a lively final news conference he stated his "blood is boiling", while the fighters disagreed on exactly what happened when they were involved in an altercation in 2017, with Breazeale adamant he was punched by one of his rival's team in front of his family.

"There are so many things I have said and I mean every word," said Wilder. "This has been a long time coming to him. He asked for this and he shall receive.

"The closest you'll get to this belt is in your dreams. You will feel it though, my actions speak louder than my words. When they get in the ring with me, it's more than a boxing match. This is not a game. I'm not in this business to make friends."

Wilder limitations and boxing travesty

Breazeale's only defeat of a 21-fight career came in a 2016 stoppage loss to unified world champion Anthony Joshua but the California fighter insists he has improved immeasurably since.

Wilder will compete for the first time since his enthralling draw with Tyson Fury in December and starts a a 1-10 favourite with bookmakers.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live's boxing podcast, former world super-middleweight champion George Groves said: "Breazeale may not be the toughest test Wilder has faced but he only has one loss on his record, so Wilder will have to stay switched on and put on a dominant performance."

A Wilder win will undoubtedly lead to fresh demand for a lucrative meeting with Joshua, despite failed negotiations in the past.

Ultimately, defeat for either Wilder, Joshua or Fury in fights over the next four weeks would prove hugely damaging for the beaten party, with the public eager to see them face off against one another.

"Personally I think it's Fury or Joshua who is number one, I don't rate Wilder. Personally I think he lost his last fight," former world super-middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe told BBC Wales Sport.

"He can punch, we have seen that, but I don't rate him much.

"You don't want the situation where one of them gets knocked out or beaten and then they fight a few years down the line.

"You want unification fights. Me, being a boxing fan, the boxing public, for boxing itself, we need to find out who the champion is. So unless these guys fight each other I think it is a travesty and is just damaging the sport."

Top Stories