IT'S OVER. WILDER KNOCKS OUT BREAZEALE I ROUND 1 pic.twitter.com/bJOAxBP2Hw— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 19, 2019
Wilder Starches Breazale in First Round
The weekend belonged to Deontay Wilder, who backed up his prefight bluster by delivering a brutal one-punch knockout in the first round against Dominic Breazale. There wasn’t much to say about the fight that the gif of Wilder’s right hand landing clean on Breazale‘s jaw didn’t tell you, but a few things should be noted. First, Breazale is a notoriously slow starter. It was always expected that he would have some shaky moments early in the fight, but if he was going to win he would have to survive a few close calls, muscle Wilder on the inside, work the body and try to make it to the later rounds. That obviously didn’t happen.
Look at what Deontay Wilder did to the mans jaw just wait for it...— Sports ON Tap (@SONTHighlights) May 19, 2019
Second, Wilder’s pre-fight wardrobe choice again was baffling. Why he insists on wearing the fancy mask and spikes combo when it doesn’t seem to be doing anything for him from a marketing perspective is unclear. (If you polled 100 people who know who Wilder is, how many would know about the mask?) At this point, he’s like a reverse Bane. Everybody cares about you already, stop putting on the mask.
Third, his post-fight comments were not a good look. After talking about killing Breazale, he seemed to backtrack into a “I’m an emotional guy” defense rather than fully apologize. Then, when Jim Grey talked about how the best heavyweights need to fight each other (including a hilarious moment where he talked about fighting subpar opponents and named Andy Ruiz, and Breazale but couldn’t remember the name of Tyson Fury’s opponent Tom Schwarz), Wilder first talked about how Fury doesn’t want to fight him again because of the huge knockdown, then said “good things come to those who wait.”
But all hope is not lost. Take it for what it’s worth, but Eddie Hearn has claimed he’s going to try and make Anthony Joshua-Wilder because Joshua is only interested in fighting Wilder next, and while he acknowledges the money would likely build by putting the fight off, “how greedy can you get?” Luis Ortiz also appeared in the ring after Wilder’s victory and spoke to Jim Grey about wanting a rematch with Wilder. If no Wilder-Joshua or Wilder-Fury, that could be a good consolation prize.
Inoue Stops Rodriguez in the Second Round
If not for Wilder’s huge knockout, the weekend would have belonged to Naoya “The Monster” Inoue. Inoue knocked Emmanuel Rodriguez down with a left hook to the head, again with a body shot, and then for a third time with a flurry of punches, all in the second round. When Rodriguez got up, the referee stopped the fight to nobody’s protest.
How good is “The Monster?” Well, the freshly crowned IBF bantamweight champion -- who inspired all sorts of Loch Ness Monster jokes fighting in Scotland -- as ESPN’s Steve Kim pointed out on Twitter, “his is the 6th consecutive opponent that prior or after facing Inoue had never been KO'd, that was stopped. The last three didn't make it past a round-and-a-half.” You could call that Tyson-like, but it would be giving Tyson too much credit and Inoue too little.
Up next for Inoue is what’s left of Nonito Donaire. The “Filipino Flash” is far past his prime and has only gotten to the WBSS finals because of injuries to his opponents, but he was always a big puncher himself and as everyone knows, power is the last thing to go. Donaire may land a lucky but huge left hook; it’s about the only chance he has. But, it’s hard to see anybody beating him at 118, so why not watch Donaire give it his best shot?
Billy Joe Saunders Cruises to 168 Pound Title
As expected, Billy Joe Saunders was far too slick for Shefat Isufi and beat him via a wide, unanimous 120-108, 117-111, 118-110 decision. Under new trainer Ben Davison, Saunders looked pretty much the same, even pulling off the patented “look away after a big punch misses” move he famously did to David Lemieux. The only moment of trouble came when he was rocked in the sixth round by a counter right hook and stumbled back against the ropes. Isufi couldn’t capitalize on the moment, and Saunders viewed it as a result of ring rust rather than a sign that 168 pound fighters were too powerful for him.
With the win, Saunders won his second title in two weight classes, and is now the WBO super middleweight champion. He believes holding the title will lure big name fighters to face him, so he wants Callum Smith in a 168 pound unification bout next.
Taylor Decisions Baranchyk for a Shot at ‘Rougarou’
Josh Taylor dropped Ivan Baranchyk twice in the sixth round en route to a unanimous 115-111, 115-111, 117-109 decision over a tough Ivan Baranchyk to secure a spot against Regis Prograis in the WBSS 140 l finals. Fighting in his hometown, the Scottish former Olympian was too good for Baranchyk, but Baranchyk fought incredibly hard even after having touched the canvas twice and deserves to be commended for the effort. Can Taylor beat Prograis? Maybe. Either way, it’s a great fight at 140 pounds and will unify the WBA and IBF titles.
Gary Russell Jr. Stops Martinez in Fifth Due to Cuts
The only interesting moments in Gary Russell Jr.’s annual appearance in the ring on Saturday were when he entered the ring looking kind of like a Zulu warrior, but more so like a child going trick-or-treating as Wilt Chamberlain in “Conan the Destroyer,” and the “Leo [Santa Cruz] next, what’s up Al [Haymon]” t-shirt he put on immediately after the fight. Between those two moments, there was his pedestrian fifth-round stoppage of Kiko Martinez, who never came close to being able to hurt or in any way alter the plans of Russell. Officially, in the fifth round the doctor stopped the fight due to cuts, but fights have gone on with far worse cuts than those, if those fights were competitive.
Russell has been fighting with Gervonta Davis online, has talked about moving up in weight for a Lomachenko rematch and obviously called out Santa Cruz for a title unification bout on Saturday. Those would all be great fights. Hopefully, a year from now we’re not watching another annual Russell beatdown of a lesser opponent and saying the same thing.
Nigel Benn’s Son Loses to 0-16 Fighter
Nigel “The Dark Destroyer” Benn’s son Harley lost this weekend to a fighter sporting an 0-16 record, to drop to 6-1. Harley, who is also the half-brother of Conor Benn, lost a four round decision. Being the son of a boxing legend and trying to replicate his success is tough already, but Harley Benn also has to deal with his brother Conor being 14-0 with nine knockouts against far better competition than Harley had faced.
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