Heavyweight Deontay Wilder put his name alongside that of Mike Tyson on Saturday night by doing something very reminiscent of Iron Mike's glory days.
In a mandatory title defense preceded by plenty of bad blood and talk of extreme violence, Wilder made quick work of challenger Dominic Breazeale, knocking him out with a devastating right hand to the chin and winning the bout at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2 minutes, 17 seconds.
The one-punch knockout sent the crowd to its feet and had Wilder screaming in the ring as his corner rushed in. While Tyson didn't do a lot of screaming, he certainly made knocking opponents out before the second bell a hallmark of his heyday of the late 1980s and early '90s. And Wilder's destruction of Breazeale looked very Tyson-esque.
It was Wilder's ninth consecutive successful title defense, tying Tyson's career-best mark. Heavyweights Muhammad Ali (who also had a streak of 10), Joe Frazier and Lennox Lewis also had nine consecutive successful defenses. Larry Holmes holds the heavyweight record with 20 straight successful defenses.
"Everything just came out of me tonight," Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) said. "I know it's been a big build-up. There's been a lot of animosity and a lot of words that were said, and it just came out of me tonight. That's what makes boxing so great."
The animosity between the 6-foot-7, 33-year-olds began in February 2017, when the fighters and their entourages reportedly had a confrontation in an Alabama hotel following a card on which Wilder defended his title and Breazeale won on the undercard. This week, Alabama native Wilder turned heads when he said of the fight, boxing "is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It's legal. So why not use my right to do so?"
On Saturday, Wilder was on Breazeale from the get-go. An early right stunned Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) and another sent the California native into the ropes. Breazeale tried to mount a comeback, landing the only two of his 10 punches to connect, but shortly after, Wilder delivered the knockout blow.
"I saw him slow up a little bit. When I hit him with the right hand the first time, his body language changed," Wilder said. "When you've been in with so many guys, you can recognize body language."
As for the rivalry, Wilder says that's in the past.
"I just told Breazeale I love him, and, of course, I want to see him go home to his family," Wilder said. "I know we say some things, but when you can fight a man and then you can hug him and kiss him, I wish the world was like that. We shake hands, and we live to see another day, and that's what it's all about."
--Field Level Media