Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole picks the winner of Deontay Wilder vs. Dominic Breazeale

Combat columnist
Yahoo Sports

Deontay Wilder can choose to fight Dominic Breazeale on Saturday at the Barclays Center in one of two ways.

He could choose to fight cautiously, to pop his jab and look for Breazeale to make a mistake. Or, the WBC heavyweight champion can rush out of his corner, putting on immediate pressure and winging punches at his bitter rival.

Either offers him a path to victory.

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But if Wilder chooses to attack, to go after Breazeale with an all-out assault, he can get the spectacular finish.

Knowing Wilder, and particularly knowing his distaste for Breazeale, that’s probably how he’ll approach things.

If he does that and knocks out Breazeale early, it’s going to be hailed as an example of his amazing punching power. But fighting that way is also the best way for Wilder to give Breazeale a shot to win.

Breazeale is 20-1 with 18 knockouts and is a legitimate puncher. He’s not as hard of a hitter as Wilder is, and doesn’t have the kind of intimidating power that Wilder possesses, but there is little doubt that Breazeale has the power to stop anyone in the division.

Wilder, though, is quicker and has the faster hands and feet. That should come in handy as he’ll be able to get his shots home first.

Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale pose for the media during a news conference at Barclays Center on March 19, 2019, in New York. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)
Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale pose for the media during a news conference at Barclays Center on March 19, 2019, in New York. (Michael Owens/Getty Images)

Anyone who has seen Wilder fight has watched one of the best finishers in the game. When he has an opponent hurt, rarely does he let them off the hook, and that’s not likely to change with Breazeale.

But where this fight could be different is if Wilder goes to those flurries, in which he tends to fire wide, looping punches in an almost windmill-like fashion, before Breazeale is hurt.

Wilder’s weakness is that he can be hit, and while his head movement against Tyson Fury and Luis Ortiz was better than it had ever been, he hasn’t reminded anyone of James Toney with his ability to slip punches in the pocket.

Breazeale is pretty basic and relies on a 1-2 to score points. But he’s switched trainers and is now with veteran Virgil Hunter, who undoubtedly worked on tightening his defense in the weeks leading up to the fight.

Hunter is also a master strategist, and he will have seen that Wilder tends to overreact to feints. So it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Breazeale throw a jab, feint his right and then hook off the jab.

The key for him is to get clean shots on Wilder without taking something in return.

Wilder isn’t much of a body puncher, but Breazeale is vulnerable to the body and an assault on his ribs will pay dividends later in the fight for the champion.

While Wilder wants a spectacular knockout because of his personal distaste for Breazeale, his first task is simply to win to keep alive the lucrative bouts with Anthony Joshua and Fury.

Look for Wilder to box with controlled aggression. He’s never going to dance and move, but it would be a mistake just to unleash on Breazeale early. Expect Wilder to begin breaking Breazeale down and to stop him somewhere by the midpoint of the fight.

Let’s say Wilder by TKO in Round 6.

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