Brooklyn played host to Deontay Wilder’s ninth successful defence of his WBC heavyweight title this past Saturday and as predicted it did not last long.
13,181 made their way to the Barclays Center and despite only 137 seconds of action a “knockout of the year” candidate assured not one of them left disappointed.
Although not the people’s choice of opponent, Dominic Breazeale was Wilder’s mandatory challenger and his only previous defeat had been through a seventh-round knockout to Anthony Joshua almost three years ago.
If comparisons were being made between the two rival champions and Breazeale was being used as a measuring stick, a chilling message was sent not only to Joshua but also to Tyson Fury and all of his other naysayers. The “Bronze Bomber” had officially served notice on the heavyweight division.
The fight itself did little to answer any question marks that followed less than convincing performances against Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury.
Despite the highlight reel KO, Wilder’s performance was not flawless, his shortcomings and vulnerabilities were also on display, his unconventional style saw him caught by a Breazeale counterpunch that had him momentarily stunned before the “equaliser” halted proceedings.
The question still remains. Is he a one-trick pony?
On June 1st, IBF, WBA and WBO champion Anthony Joshua defends his titles against late replacement Andy Ruiz at Madison Square Garden, New York.
A win here for the Brit is almost a certainty, but with Wilder’s performance against Breazeale still fresh, there is an immense pressure on Joshua to impress on his US debut.
Failure to shine here will surely make Wilder the favourite in any potential match-up, and the 60/40 split offered to Wilder could well be reversed in favour of the American should negotiations between the two resume.
However, with Wilder rumoured to be defending his title against Adam Kownacki before rematches with Luis Ortiz and Tyson Fury, any hopes of a unification with Joshua seem unlikely until at least 2021. So where does that leave AJ?
After his imminent victory, AJ will no doubt take a holiday and recharge from his training camp, but there will be no such holiday for his promoter Eddie Hearn, who is now under significant pressure to deliver a “real” contest for Joshua’s next outing and avoid any repeat of his New York nightmare.
Unfortunately for Hearn, due to the ‘cold war’ consisting of promoter rivalries, television companies and streaming services, choice of opponent is limited.
If Hearn continues to fail to secure the big fights for Joshua, one has to ask how long he can hold on to his “cash cow”. Could Joshua look elsewhere in his bid to unify the belts and cement his legacy?