Deontay Wilder says that Anthony Joshua’s IBF World Heavyweight title clash with Dominic Breazeale is a 50-50 fight at The O2 in London on Saturday night (June 25) live on Sky Sports Box Office and on Showtime in the US.
Wilder will be part of the Showtime team covering the fight from New York City and the WBC king will be on the edge of his seat as he cannot split champion or challenger as Joshua prepares to defend the World title he landed in April with a devastating second round KO win over Charles Martin.
“I definitely see the fight as a 50-50,” said Wilder. “You’ve got two big Heavyweights, and the challenger wants what the champion has, and the champion wants to keep what he has.
“It’s going to be interesting because we’ve seen Breazeale in a lot of wars. He’s almost been taken out by some of the smaller Heavyweights, he’s been punched around, but he has always survived.
“We’ve seen Joshua has also been busted up as well, but he has kept his composure, and this fight is in his backyard amongst his people.
“I don’t put anything past Breazeale because he’s coming in hustlers’ territory. I think that it’ll be a good fight because of Breazeale – I think he really wants it.”
Wilder makes the fourth defence of his WBC strap on July 16 against Chris Arreola in his hometown of Alabama, and the 30 year old says that Joshua will feel like a different fighter as he goes into his first fight as World champion – but that there’s now an even bigger target on his back.
“Once you’ve got that belt, you feel like ‘I’m the man’,” said Wilder. “After the first fight, that’s when you really feel confident. You really feel you’re the man, you’re the champ. You’re the ruler once you’ve had your first defence.
“For Joshua, this is his first title defence, so he should feel some kind of security about himself and confidence about himself. But he’s going to find out that to continue his career and defend that title, these guys aren’t going to lay down after one punch or after two punches.
“They’re going to keep taking punches, they’re going to keep getting knocked down and they’re going to keep getting up. This is for a World title. This can bring you out of poverty, you know what I mean? For that reason, these challengers are hungry. That’s one of the things that I had to realise.
“I put myself in their position. When I was a challenger, I was hungry and I already had the mentality that ‘you’re going to really have to kill me or hurt me bad to get me out of this ring.’ So that’s the mentality that these challengers have.
“It’s going to be interesting when you have a guy with a big heart that really, really wants it and I think Breazeale really wants it. We’re going to see where his heart is. I can’t say what kind of heart he has, but we’re going to see.”
Breazeale is following compatriot Charles Martin into Joshua’s Greenwich fortress, where the 2012 Olympic gold medalist is fighting for the seventh time in his pro career. Wilder has boxed outside of the US many times – including his one-round KO of Audley Harrison MBE in Sheffield – and he believes Breazeale’s confidence must be sky-high to travel to Joshua’s backyard.
“It takes a lot of courage, will and heart to fight in someone’s backyard,” said Wilder. “It takes someone that has confidence in themselves. And not to mention going to someone else’s country, because then the environment has completely changed. It’s a big difference and not a lot of guys are willing to travel outside of their country where they would be uncomfortable.
“Only a very few that really want to build their legacy, such as myself, will travel and have no problem. I don’t like to worry about judges or nothing. You go do what you have to do. That’s just my philosophy and mentality as a champion now. When you say the Heavyweight Champion of the World, that’s why this is tough, we travel all over the world.”
Joshua’s clash with Breazeale tops a huge night of boxing at The O2 as George Groves and Martin Murray meet in an eliminator for the WBA World Super-Middleweight title.
Chris Eubank Jr defends his British Middleweight title against Welshman Tom Doran, John Wayne Hibbert clashes with Andrea Scarpa for the vacant WBC Silver Super-Lightweight title, Brixton Heavyweight Dillian Whyte returns to the fray, unbeaten Birmingham star Kal Yafai is in action, Olympic bronze medal man Anthony Ogogo continues his comeback from injury, Conor Benn fights for the third time in the paid ranks and there’s a debut for Team GB star Felix Cash.