Even with more than 10 years of service in the pro ranks, it’s never too late for Deontay Wilder to change up his fighting style or—at the very least—learn from past mistakes.
The unbeaten heavyweight titlist is well aware of his past in-ring bad habits. He knows he’s failed at times to keep his heart from racing the moment he sees a knockout in his sights. There have been far too many occasions where he’s made easy nights far more difficult by all but abandoning the very basic fundamentals of the sport.
Knowing that his May 18 mandatory title defense with Dominic Breazeale comes with two-way personal disdain, the challenge which lies ahead is as much about working smarter rather than harder as it is about the heavyweight standing across the ring on fight night.
“I’m breaking myself down in camp,” Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) insisted during a recent video interview with Tha Boxing Voice ahead of his Showtime-televised headliner from Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. “I’ve had a lot of things going on the past several months and it’s been amazing.
“This camp is mainly for breaking myself down and going back to the basics. You might see those body shots and me going back to basics but at the end of the day I still got to knock him out.”
The upcoming bout marks the rare occasion in which Wilder isn’t coming off of a knockout win. It’s only happened twice in his career—when he first won the title in a 12-round decision over Bermane Stiverne in Jan. ‘15, and his most recent adventure in being held to a 12-round draw versus Tyson Fury last December in Los Angeles.
Wilder found himself getting outboxed far too often versus England’s unbeaten Fury before scoring a pair of late knockdowns to considerably narrow the gap on the scorecards. The 12th round knockdown he scored nearly had Fury out, but ultimately proved to be the difference between the official draw verdict and the first loss in Wilder’s career.
Plans for a rematch saw Wilder basically waste two months of his boxing life only to see Fury sign an exclusive network contract under the ESPN platform. From there came Plan B, which has the 6’7” heavyweight from Tuscaloosa, Ala. moving forward with his mandatory title defense versus Breazeale (20-1, 18KOs), with whom there is personal history.
The pair of towering heavyweights appeared on the same Feb. ’17 Fox-televised show in Birmingham, Ala., with both winning by knockout in separate bouts. Breazeale was in attendance following his knockout win earlier in the evening to root on fellow California-based heavyweight Gerald Washington versus Wilder.
His actions didn’t sit well with Wilder’s team, particularly his brother Marsellos whom insisted that Breazeale was far too aggressive in his disdain for the reigning champ. The bad blood spilled over into a post-fight brawl in the lobby of a nearby Westin hotel, with both boxers still bitter over the incident and the fallout even two years later.
“We’ll see what happens with the Breazeale fight, because this fight is so f****n’ personal,” Wilder notes, already conceding that a boxing match will likely erupt into a fight. “I’m still going to be a knockout artist, that’s what I do, I knock a mother***** out.
“I’m going to give what they want to see while still giving y’all what you came to see. If you want to see me box more, I’ll do that but let’s be honest ain’t nobody coming to see all that boxing s***. My motto is, I don’t get paid for overtime.”