By: William Holmes
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has retired, Manny Pacquiao is close to retiring to focus on his political career, and boxing is looking for the next superstar to lead it into the next era.
The heavyweight division has long been known as the “glamour” division of boxing and it has slowly been making a comeback. An American, Deontay Wilder, holds on legitimate belt and longtime title holder Wladimir Klitschko has a peltorh On Saturday night, Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) Series will return to the NBC Network to televise Deontay Wilder’s second defense of his WBC World Heavyweight Title.
Undefeated US Heavyweight Olympian Dominic Breazeale is scheduled to open up the telecast as he takes on the rugged veteran Fred Kassi.
The following is a preview of both of the heavyweight bouts to be televised on NBC from the Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Dominic Breazeale (15-0) vs. Fred Kassi (18-3-1); Heavyweights
Dominic Breazeale competed for the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympics but failed to medal. Since turning pro he has stopped every single opponent except for one and has fought five times in 2014, but only once in 2015.
Kassi is the toughest test Breazeale has faced to date, and he has been in the ring with better opponents than Breazeale, but he does not have the amateur experience of his opponent.
Breazeale will have a three inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage over Kassi. Breazeale will also be six years younger than Kassi, who just turned thirty six.
Breazeale also has the power edge over his opponent. He has stopped fourteen of his opponents, with the iron jawed Nagy Aguilera being the only person to take him the distance six fights ago. Kassi has stopped ten of his opponents, but he has only had two stoppage victories in his past five fights.
Kassi has beaten the likes of Ruben Williams Shannon Caudle. He also had a majority draw against Chris Arreola. He has lost to Amir Mansour, Kendrick Releford, and Lionel Butler.
Breazeale hasn’t faced a lot of tough opponents yet, but he does hold victories over Yasman Consuegra, Victor Bisbal, Nagy Aguilera, and Devin Vargas.
Kassi can give Breazeale a tough fight if he isn’t prepared, like he did against the often out of shape Chris Arreola. But Breazeale is too talented and it’s hard to imagine him not being fully prepared for fighting on network television.
Breazeale should stop Kassi early, but the longer the fight goes the better the chances are Kassi wins by upset.
Deontay Wilder (34-0) vs. Johann Duhaupas (32-2); WBC World Heavyweight Titile
This will be Deontay Wilder’s third heavyweight title fight and the second in his home state of Alabama, but the quality of his opponent is not very good.
Wilder has stopped thirty three of his opponents and is a bronze medal winner in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Duhaupas has only stopped twenty of his opponents and has gone 1-1 in his past two fights. He also does not have any notable amateur accomplishments.
Wilder will have a two inch height advantage on his opponent, and he is also five years yonger than Duhaupas.
Duhaupas biggest victory to date was a decision victory over Manuel Charr in Moscow, Russia in his last fight. Other notable opponents he has defeated include Jarno Rosberg and Janne Katajisto. His defeats were to Erkan Teper and former world title challenger Francesco Pianeta.
Duhaupas has never fought outside of Europe.
Wilder has won rather convincingly every time he has stepped inside the ring. He has defeated the likes of Eric Molina, Bermane Stiverne, Malik Scott, Siarhei Liakhovich, Audley Harrison, and Kelvin Price.
Wilder needs to step up his level of competition soon if he wants to challenge Wladimir Klitschko for his belts, but as long as the WBC sanctions heavyweight title fights against opponents who stand little to no chance of beating him, his level of competition is unlikely to increase in difficulty.
If Duhaupas makes it past the fourth round he should consider it a moral victory, but it’s unlikely Wilder will do anything other than go for the knockout early to impress the audience on NBC.
Press Conf Quotes:
Below please find what the fighters had to say:
“I’m just ready to fight. Anybody can be knocked out. It just takes the right amount of time and patience. You have to set up for it. Some guys can take punches better than others, but I don’t think he’s faced any guy with the charisma that I bring to the ring.
“I don’t look at video or any of that stuff. I like to adjust when I get into the ring. It get’s me involved mentally and I can show off my IQ in the ring. I can’t wait for that bell to ring.
“When you talk about the heavyweight division, all of the guys and big and strong. You have to respect each fighter. At the end of the day, the records don’t matter. It’s about who’s the toughest, who’s the smartest and whose the most motivated in the ring.
“For all of my fights I’ve been gaining more experience. I knew I could go rounds and take punches even though people didn’t think I could. With this fight, it’s a new style and a new opponent, so I might have to bring out something I haven’t had to in my career.
“Each and every time I fight it’s a learning experience. Inside the ring and outside. I’m a busy champion. I want to be the biggest name around. I’m the right man for the job.
“I love this sport. I’m married to this sport and I’m not going anywhere. My hand is stronger than it was before my last fight and I look forward to putting it to the test.”
“I’m very confident in myself and solid in my training. I have great confidence in all of the work that I have put in.
“Deontay’s a great fighter that hits very hard. I know that we’re in his neighborhood and that puts extra pressure on the fight. Either way, it’s a world title fight. Doesn’t make a difference if it’s in his backyard or mine.
“I’m not the first guy he asked to fight. Several refused before me but I’m the one who accepted the fight.
“We’ve got a great strategy in place. I have 15 years of experience. He’s a wonderful adversary, but like us all, he has weaknesses that I can expose.
“It’s been an honor to come to the United States. I feel like I’m in the movies that I used to watch as a child. I really appreciate this country.
“Height is always an issue when facing a taller guy, but it will be up to me to take care of that. I’ve fought several guys taller than me and I’ll be ready.
“I’m confident in myself and I’ll be equally as confident in the ring. I’m ready to deliver the knockout.”
“A win in a small town is great. A win in a huge town is great. A win on national television is amazing. I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m looking for the knockout on Saturday night.
“This is a great experience for me. I’m trying to design my own road map to the world title. Deontay and I have taken different paths, but I know eventually we will be fighting for the same belt.
“PBC is doing some great things and it’s great to be back in this position. It’s phenomenal. These are the things you dream about when you’re a kid. I’m glad to be on this huge stage.
“I’m an aggressive, boxer-slugger type of fighter. I’m always looking for that big punch. When I land it, the lights go out.
“Last fight I got hit with some shots I shouldn’t have taken. This time I want to be more sound defensively. I’ve worked on my jab a lot and I want to establish that.
“Slugging is the only way I know how [to fight]. I never want to go the distance. Fans want to see someone get hurt. I’m in the best shape of my life.”
“I don’t know too much about Breazeale. After the fight, I can rank how good he is right now.
“I just have to be smart in there. I have to let him make a mistake and counter those mistakes.
“It’s going to be a great fight because I always come to fight. I’ve come up short a couple of times but I am coming here to win!”