From the moment Tyson Fury and promoter Frank Warren announced their alignment with Top Rank and ESPN, each passing day has suggested the troubling news of a rematch with Deontay Wilder looking less and less likely to occur in the near future.
There is a silver lining to the potential fallout; at least if you’re Dominic Breazeale.
“I’m excited. That was the biggest thing that’s happened in the last 15 months,” California’s Breazeale (20-1, 18KOs) admitted during the most recent edition of Inside PBC Boxing on FS1. “A situation like that, where Fury kind of pulls out of his situation with the rematch is the best thing for the WBC mandatory.”
The 2012 U.S. Olympian and current heavyweight contender has long waited in line as the mandatory challenger to Wilder’s World Boxing Council (WBC) heavyweight title, dating back to his 8th round knockout of Eric Molina in their sanctioned eliminator. The Nov. ’17 clash came on the undercard of Wilder’s repeat win over Bermane Stiverne, knocking him out in one round nearly three years after scoring a 12-round decision to win the title.
It was the second time in as many fights in 2017 in which Wilder and Breazeale appeared on the same show. Their previous occasion proved far more infamous, as their respective camps engaged in a post-fight brawl in a hotel lobby after separate wins on a Feb. ’17 show in Birmingham, Alabama.
Little love has been lost between the towering heavyweights, but only Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) has managed to progress at the top level. Breazeale has sat and watched his divisional rival go on to big paydays in a knockout win over Luis Ortiz last March and a high-profile 12-round draw with Fury last December, a bout whose controversial outcome sparked immediate interest for a straight-away rematch.
The two sides were thought to be close to a deal, until Fury caught many in the industry by surprise in entering a co-promotional agreement with Bob Arum. The news was met with mixed reaction, but mostly negative from those who understand the business well enough.
Arum has been for years an outspoken critic of adviser Al Haymon, who represents Wilder and Breazeale, and his current Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) business model. His suddenly entering the picture at a time when the two sides were still discussing the terms left little hope of advancing current talks.
Predictably, talks have traveled in the opposite direction. Arum’s own comments in recent days give every indication of allowing anticipation to build, of the belief that a rematch would be even bigger down the road.
Regardless of Fury’s next move under the ESPN umbrella, Wilder will have to hunt for a new opponent. If the WBC steps in, he won’t have to look very far.
The sanctioning body has done its best to allow talks between Wilder and Fury to carry on until either a deal is reached or the two definitively go their separate ways. The Mexico City-based organization has even ordered an interim title fight between Breazeale and top contender Dillian Whyte, with the hopes of pairing together the winners later this year.
“That’s actually a fight we’ve been negotiating,” Breazeale acknowledged. “Me and Dillian Whyte’s people, we’ve been talking and Al has done a great job of putting that together. We’re actually moving that ball and trying to get a date set on that.”
That said, such a fight would of course take a back seat to an even bigger opportunity coming to surface. Without a Fury rematch, there no longer exists the need for Wilder to bypass his mandatory title obligations.
“With this news on Wilder coming out, I can’t pass on a world title,” notes Breazeale, who is coming off of 9th round knockout of Carlos Negron last December. “If I don’t get the world title (fight), I’ll certainly take the WBC interim title (fight with Whyte), sure.”
In a perfect world—which just might be the case with the right ruling for the 33-year old contender—a shot at the sport’s biggest prize would trump all other options.
“If it’s up to me, I want Deontay Wilder first,” insists Breazeale. Pick a date, pick a time, pick a venue and I’m ready to go as of tomorrow. Let’s get it done.”