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Wilder vs. Breazeale II: This One Counts

Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale are finally lacing them up for a rematch, more than two years after their first bout. That fight was an unsanctioned scrum in the lobby of a Birmingham, Alabama, hotel. The stakes are a little higher this Saturday at the Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn, as Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title is on the line.

Wilder, Breazeale, and their respective families/entourages got into a ridiculous shoving match just hours after each man had won fights at the Legacy Arena. Breazeale subsequently took to social media to claim the “Wilder and a mob of about 20 people unprovokedly attacked my Team and my family.” Though Wilder remained silent on the matter at the time, it was reported the attack was retaliation for an earlier dust-up between Breazeale and Wilder’s younger brother, Marsellos. Who knows what really happened? Who cares? What matters is that these two dudes seem to genuinely dislike each other.

Both men are huge, coming in at 6’7″, and getting on in years at 33. Wilder has about an inch and a half or reach on Breazeale, but gives up nearly 40 pounds. Both are aggressive and powerful with a total of 57 KOs in 67 fights. Combine their seemingly real contempt for each other along with their explosive styles and the result should an electric confrontation. This fight will almost definitely end with one of them on the canvas.

Wilder may have recently gone beyond trash talking and good taste in discussing his intentions. “(Breazeale’s) life is on the line for this fight and I do mean his life… I’m still trying to get me a body on my record,” he declared.

Wilder, aka “the Bronze Bomber,”  is not just looking to retain his belt, he’s also hoping to get back on track after fighting Tyson Fury to a 12-round draw back in December (you can watch the fight again beginning Thursday on-demand on Showtime). For a moment there it had appeared that Wilder had scored another knockout in the 12th round, but Fury managed to peel himself off the mat before the ref could count him out. The split decision (115–111, 112–114, 113–113) allowed Wilder to keep his title, but it was the first fight of his career that didn’t end in victory. He’s now 40-0-1 with 39 knockouts for his career, with 20 of those KO’s coming in the first round.

Saturday’s fight offers Dominic “Trouble” Breazeale his second shot at a title in the past three years. On June 25, 2016, he lost his bid for the IBF heavyweight title, taking a TKO in the 7th to Anthony Joshua. Since then, however, he’s worked his way back into title contention with three wins.

Ironically, no one has more on the line than fight fans. A win for Wilder would make a virtual certainty the long-anticipated bout between him and IBF/WBA/WBO titleholder Anthony Joshua. Wilder’s and Joshua’s camps have been dancing around each for months now, unable to come to an agreement on terms. Should Wilder successfully defend his title, a fight with Joshua would finally have to come about — wouldn’t it?

The undercard features featherweight Gary Russell putting his WBC title on the line against former champ Kiko Martinez, and undefeated super lightweight Juan Heraldez squaring off against former champ Argenis Mendez.

Watch a preview of Wilder-Breazeale on All Access on Friday at 10pm ET, then catch all the coverage of Wilder-Breazeale at 9pm ET Saturday, both on Showtime