Results / Photos: Deontay Wilder Thrills Barclays Center, Gary Russell Jr. Retains Featherweight Title
WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder delivered the 40th knockout of his career in devastating fashion Saturday night, sending mandatory challenger Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale flat on his back with a trademark right hand in front of a raucous crowd at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING™, in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions. Successfully defending his belt for the ninth time, Wilder joins illustrious company alongside Hall of Famers Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson and more and becomes the 10th fighter in history to make nine or more consecutive successful heavyweight title defenses.
In the buildup to tonight’s world championship bout, Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) repeatedly promised that the fight would not last long. The towering Tuscaloosa, Ala. native kept his word, scoring the 20th first round knockout of his career and his 15th knockdown as heavyweight world champion. Breazeale (20-2, 18 KOs) was able to withstand Wilder’s first early onslaught, but could not beat referee Harvey Dock’s 10-count when Wilder connected flush with the most dangerous right hand in boxing later in the opening round.
“Everything just came out of me tonight”, said Wilder. “I know it’s been a big buildup, 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.
“I just told Breazeale I love him and of course I want to see him go home to his family. 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.”
As the attention of the heavyweight division turns to what’s next, Wilder insists that a fight with Tyson Fury, the only man he has faced and not defeated, or Anthony Joshua remains on the table and in the works.
“I understand what Fury did,” said Wilder. “When you get dropped on the canvas like that I understand you have to get yourself back together. But the rematch will happen, like all these other fights will happen. The great thing is all these fights rare in discussion. The big fights will happen. I just want you to have patience.”
Breazeale, whose only two defeats have now come against both Wilder and Joshua, was disappointed he wasn’t allowed to continue the fight.
“I think the ref stopped it a little early because I could hear him saying seven and eight, but that’s boxing,” said Breazeale. “He did his job and kept us safe for our next fight.
“I got on my feet and had my legs under me. It’s the heavyweight division so there’s going to big shots from guys with power. This was a situation where he landed the big right hand before I did. I thought I was going to come on in the later rounds. I’ll be back and go for the heavyweight title again.”
In the co-feature, WBC Featherweight World Champion Gary Russell Jr. (30-1, 18 KOs) put on yet another professional display to defend his belt for the fourth time against a valiant Kiko Martinez (39-9-2, 28 KOs). Due to a gash that opened up over Martinez’s left eye, referee Ricky Gonzalez stopped the fight in the fifth round upon the advice of the ringside physician, resulting in a technical knockout.
Russell, who was fighting for the first time in a year, showed no signs of ring rust and displayed his full skillset including his trademark lightning quick hands. The 30-year-old Capitol Heights, Md. native was dominant from the opening bell and landed on a remarkable 40% of his power punches. In an all-action fight with little downtime, Martinez did more than enough to play his part. The Spaniard constantly came forward but Russell continued to target the cut that opened up over his eye after a right hook in the second round. The ringside official called for the stoppage of the fight at 2:52 of round number five.
“I did pretty good,” said the 2008 U.S. Olympian Russell to SHOWTIME ringside reporter Jim Gray. “We stayed behind the jab and he couldn’t get past it. We knew that intellect over athleticism would get it done.
“We want [WBA Featherweight Champion] Leo Santa Cruz,” Russell continued while wearing a shirt that read ‘Leo Next’. “We want to make this fight happen. The fire is all the way hot on this side of the field. You will get burned. I would love for that fight to happen this year. Let’s make it happen.”
“It was a good stoppage for a very tough fight,” said the former world champion Martinez. “I’m definitely a visual fighter so the cut made it tough. Gary was in great physical condition and it was a very hard fight.
“I’m going to rest a little bit now, but I’ll be back. I thought I had some good moments and had a good division. I think I’ll drop back down to 122-pounds to win a world title there.”
In the telecast opener, undefeated prospect Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10 KOs) and former world champion Argenis Mendez (25-5-2, 12 KOs) fought to a highly competitive majority draw. Two judges scored the fight 95-95, while a third had Mendez winning 97-93.
Fighting in front of his mentor Floyd Mayweather, Las Vegas’ Heraldez controlled many of the early rounds by setting the pace and establishing his jab. Heraldez outlanded Mendez 126-108 in total punches and 70-30 in jabs throughout the 10 rounds. Falling behind early, Mendez, a seasoned veteran and 2004 Dominican Republic Olympian, used his experience to grow back into the fight. The tempo picked up in the fifth round, as both fighters landed several heavy blows but the momentum shifted towards Mendez. The 32-year-old Mendez, who has fought seven current or former champions, closed out the fight exceptionally strong, winning the final round on all three judges’ scorecards. Without doing so, Mendez would have lost the fight.
“I thought I won the fight,” said a disappointed Mendez. “He didn’t do anything to me. How did he win the fight? If I have to prove I beat him in a rematch, I’ll be ready. I won’t leave it up to the judges.
“My speed and my power made it difficult for him. I thought my counterpunching was really good. He tired toward the later rounds and that let me get a little closer to him to get my offense going.”
Similarly, Heraldez thought he did enough to win the fight which he viewed as a potential coming out party.
“I thought I won a close decision,” Heraldez said. “I didn’t think it was a draw. He didn’t do anything that hurt me at any point.
“He wasn’t really engaging with me. He was just trying to move around and pick his shots, but it wasn’t anything I wasn’t ready for. I’ll either take the rematch with Mendez or move forward toward my goal of a world title.”
Preceding the telecast, SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING COUNTDOWN featured three undercard attractions streamed live on the SHOWTIME Sports social platforms. A battle between heavyweights Robert Alfonso (18-0-1, 8 KOs) and Iago Kiladze (26-4-1, 18 KOs) ended in a split-draw after eight rounds of action. While one judge scored the fight 77-75 for Alfonso, another had it 77-75 for Kiladze, with the third judge scoring it 76-76, resulting in the draw.
Also entering the ring was 2016 U.S. Olympian Gary Antuanne Russell (9-0, 9 KOs), the younger brother of the featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr., who dropped Marcos Mojica (16-4-2, 12 KOs) twice to earn a stoppage 2:13 into the third round. Rounding out the action was Brooklyn-native and 2016 Haitian Olympian Richardson Hitchins (9-0, 5 KOs), who scored a TKO of Alejandro Munera (4-2-3, 4 KOs) after Munera was knocked down in round three and unable to continue despite making it to the final bell of the round.