Kelly Swanson – Wilder vs. Breazeale is Saturday, May 18 live on SHOWTIME. It’s the heavyweight championship of the world. It is at Barclays Center, the home of BROOKLYN BOXING and it’s presented by Premier Boxing Championships. Tickets for the BombZquad event are available through Ticketmaster, barclayscenter.com and at the American Express Box Office at Barclays Center.
Now I’m going to introduce Stephen Espinoza, President of Sports and Event Programming for Showtime Networks to make introductory comments. Stephen.
Thanks very much, Kelly. We are thrilled to be presenting Wilder vs. Breazeale on SHOWTIME a week from Saturday. Before we get there we are committed to this fight as if it were a pay-per-view because we believe that that’s where Deontay is in his career and this is the level of promotion that a fight of this caliber deserves.
So we will be premiering ALL ACCESS: WILDER vs. BREAZEALE on Friday, May 10th at 10 p.m. Following that will be a three-fight ShoBox telecast featuring Ruben Villa in the main event.
And those of you who know me know that I’m also a hip-hop music fan so I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Wu-Tang documentary, “Of Mics and Men,” that’s premiering tomorrow. So it’s a big lineup tomorrow night on SHOWTIME – 9 p.m. is the Wu-Tang documentary followed by ALL ACCESS: WILDER vs. BREAZEALE at 10 p.m. and then ShoBox at 10:30.
Next week ALL ACCESS will be active a daily basis debuting new short form episodes every day during fight week. Then we get to the fight itself. Look, I’m not going to give you too much about this.
You have two s6-foot-s7 heavyweights with a combined 90% knockout ratio so you really don’t have to sell too much on this one. Since 2015, SHOWTIME has featured 14 heavyweight world title fights.. We are happy to see the resurgence of the heavyweight division. We’re proud for our role in it. No other network has been as committed to the heavyweight division and no other network has done more to bring about this resurgence.
So we are thrilled to be seeing the heavyweights back on this massive stage once again. As I mentioned combined record of these two fighters, 60 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw, 57 KOs. That is a knockout rate over 90%.
Deontay Wilder, obviously he’s coming off two of his most exciting and certainly career-defining performances – a Fight of the Year caliber fight against Luis Ortiz in March of 2018 and then his pay-per-view debut against Tyson Fury.
Those were two of the most exciting heavyweight fights that we’ve seen in quite some time. In Dominic Breazeale, Wilder will be facing a tall, strong, experienced and very motivated opponent.
At 6-foot-7, Dominic is one of the few heavyweights in the division who looks eye to eye with Deontay so that will be a different experience. With 18 KO victories in 21 professional fights, he has been on the world stage before taking on Anthony Joshua in the U.K.
And it’s no secret that there’s a personal rivalry from these two guys so there is no shortage of motivation. All in all we’re looking forward to this three fight card. Again, ALL ACCESS: WILDER vs. BREAZEALE will kick it off Friday at 10 p.m. followed by ShoBox and we will see all of you a week from Saturday in Brooklyn.
Thanks Stephen. And yes, now we are going to turn to “Trouble” himself, Dominic “Trouble Breazeale”. He’s 20 and 1, with 18 knockouts. He’s a WBC mandatory challenger. He’s a 2012 U.S. Olympian from Glendale, California.
For this fight it’s his first fight training with Virgil Hunter in the Bay area. He previously challenged Anthony Joshua for the heavyweight title in 2016 and he won his last three fights by knockout.
So without further ado, we’d love to hear from you Dominic and if you’d like to make opening comments before we open it up the press and just let us know how things are going and your thoughts on the fight a week from Saturday:
Thank you Kelly. Camp is going great up here in the Bay Area. Virgil Hunter’s done a great job of putting things in and implementing my game plan going into this fight May 18.
I’m definitely excited to be fighting on the world stage again for the WBC title. May 18 is going to be an explosive night. You’ve got two knockout artists, two big six-foot-seven guys.
I’m super excited to be involved with the event. I’m super excited to get a big KO win May 18. Like I said, the body feels great. Camp has gone up and beyond what I expected it to be.
I’m super ready. I can’t wait to get on this plane and get to New York and get this started.
Deontay Wilder has turned out to be a pretty good heavyweight champion. What makes you think you can beat him?
Your opinion on him being a pretty good heavyweight champion, that’s your opinion alone. I don’t think anyone else agrees with you on that one. But I don’t see any fundamental skills. I don’t see any successes on his part.
He’s been champion for about four years. He hasn’t grown. He hasn’t changed. Yes, he’s got a big right-hand but don’t we all in the heavyweight division? We all have knockout power.
So I think I’m walking into a fight where I’m the more skilled, more athletic and bigger, stronger guy.
You’re training with Virgil Hunter now. What has he brought to the table for you?
A little bit of everything. don’t see how I’ve come this far in my career, ten years of boxing now and haven’t learned some of the fundamental basics that he’s used to restructure me.
Yes, they’ve always been there but with this new approach training he was able to bring a lot more out in my fundamentals as far as when I use my jab and how I use it and other things that we plan on using in our game plan on May 18.
How badly would you like a knockout in this specific fight given all the animosity that’s been going on between yourself and Wilder that stems back to your issues a couple of years ago in Birmingham?
Going into every fight is probably the biggest fight of your life. And I’m always looking for a huge knockout, something to impress the fans and impress the boxing community.
At the same time, I’m never looking for it. I’m never trying to surge and try too hard to get the knockout. I always let it come. But this one, it’s going to be a lot better success. It’s going to be a lot better sleeping May 18 the night after I win the title, if I get a knockout.
Don’t get me wrong. A win’s a win but at the same time I want to impress the world. I want to impress the boxing community with a big knockout. When I say big knockout one where my right hand, my left hand is going to make contact and he goes out. Doesn’t get back up.
So what would be the personal satisfaction on that besides just the great accomplishment to win the heavyweight belt?
The personal thing from the outside of the ring makes the revenge factor. You approach myself and my wife and kids in a situation that was not boxing related.
The gratification and the fact that my personal revenge, knocking out Deontay Wilder is a lot bigger than just an actual win or KO on any other given night.
How do you think that you can stand-up to his right hand, if Anthony Joshua was able to get you?
I’ve grown a lot in the last few years. The Joshua fight was an eye opener. It was good experience. I learned then that I was standing there a lot more and taking some damage that I didn’t need to take because of the big guy that I am.
As I said earlier, Wilder’s got a big right hand but so do I and I’ve got a big left hook. In the heavyweight division if you don’t have knockout power, you’ve got no reason to be in the division.
So yes, Wilder’s going to throw some leather and make some contact by all means. Boxing, it’s all about hitting and not getting hit. I don’t plan on getting hit a lot May 18 and if I do, I’ve been there. I’ve done that before.
At the same time I plan on putting on all the punishment. And if the right hand comes, so be it. I’ll deal with it. It’s part of boxing.
We want to see the heavyweight champions fight each other. What is your statement on that as far as the way that people look at the heavyweight division right now?
I don’t disagree with you or the boxing fans just because I’m a boxing fan myself. Of course you always want to see the title holders fight each other.
But right now I think those five names you mentioned, myself, Andy Ruiz, Tyson Fury, Wilder and Joshua, we are the top of the division and the fans are getting exposed to what they want to see. They’re getting exposed to a heavyweight fight.
When I fight Wilder May 18 it’s not going to be boring. It’s going to be action packed. It’s going to be big punch after big punch. And the thing with Joshua and Andy Ruiz, I’m excited to be part of the division. I’m excited to be where I am now standing. I’m also super excited to be the spoiler.
Wilder’s had a great deal on the table, whenever he was working with Joshua and I think he should have taken it because come May 18, I’m going to ruin everything.
I’m going to put my name in that hat with Joshua and I definitely want my revenge against Joshua so we’re going to make some things up in the near future. My way to do that is to get my WBC title and that’s what I plan on doing.
You think that fight against Carlos Negron might have knocked off some ring rust and maybe helped you prepare for the fight against Deontay Wilder?
Yes, anytime you have a little bit of layoff, a little bit of ring rust you don’t want that of course but I was glad I was able to do it December 22 against Carlos Negron.
I’m happy to be getting in the ring as soon as I am now for the WBC title shot. There wasn’t a long layoff between me in the ring December 22, taking a couple of days off for Christmas and New Years and getting right back in the gym in January.
So I think like I said earlier, I’ve had a great camp. I’ve had a lot less layoff than in the past and all cylinders are firing.
Was it tough having to wait before you knew you would get that opportunity to face Deontay?
Yes, definitely tough. I won the WBC title eliminator against Eric Molina and then to be told that it’s going to be sometime, six months, seven months which turned into I think almost about a year.
That was very tough because I’m one of the guys who stayed in the gym. I’m sparing every other day or sparing once a week. I’m always in the gym and I’m always working. Sometimes that can take a toll on you.
But fortunately in my favor it worked out great. I got another fight against Carlos Negron and attended the WBC mandatory and here a year and a half later getting ready to fight for a world title. In a sense, it kept me motivated. It kept me working.
What did you think of Deontay’s performance against Tyson Fury? Did watching that fight kind of give you a better idea of what you need to do to beat Deontay Wilder?
Yes, definitely. It gave me some better things to be focusing on and to hone in on at the same time. I was there in person.
I thought Fury won that fight. I know he got knocked down a couple of times but as far as the boxing, the world looks at him how he scored in a boxing match. Tyson outscored Wilder that night and won that fight.
Fury did some good things. He had some great defensive movements. He did some good attacks as well as counter punching. On the other hand, Wilder did the same thing over and over like he’s done in his last four, five fights – over the last four or five years is throw the one, two and hopefully hope and pray that the right hand lands eventually.
There were some things that I learned from the fight as well as some things I’ve continuously seen over and over, time and time again.
What were your thoughts when you got found by Michael King?
The idea first came across in a phone call. Joe Onowar, he called me, he was the recruiter at the time. I completely thought he was crazy.
`There was no way in hell that I was going to pick up boxing at 23 years old after I’d done football, basketball, track, baseball, hockey, wrestling – all that as a kid. Never stepped foot into a boxing ring, then to pick it up as a sport at 23 years old when I was at the end of my career.
Honestly at the time I thought it was a real dumb idea but three months into it after I had my first amateur fight and 18 months later when I became a 2012 Olympian and now 10 years later now I’m fighting for the WBC World Title, I think Michael King was the smartest man on the planet.
For me to be the one that came out the man on top is special, there were hundreds of athletes that came to the door. I feel like the idea of turning a Division One athlete into a professional boxer. It was crazy then ten years ago but now, I think it’s a great phenomenal idea.
Even Jim Brown thought that with a couple months of training he could fight Muhammad Ali. Why is it that football players have this idea that hey, if I’m good at football I can be just as good at boxing?
I think the idea of the contact was that thinking that I’m a big man. I’m aggressive. I’m powerful, that type of thing. In the football world you’d think of the defensive ends, the linebackers, the running backs, the left tackle, the guys that have the most contact on the football field would be the biggest, baddest guy in the boxing ring. Not true.
Here you are, you’re talking to a quarterback who usually takes all the damage and they always want to put a yellow jersey or a pink jersey on during practice and don’t touch the quarterback type of deal. The tables are turned and I’m actually the aggressor and I’m the knockout puncher now.
The guys in the football world believe that because they can hit somebody with their shoulder or they can make the big tackle that they can throw some gloves on and throw their lives in the ring. It’s a different story man.
And like Mike Tyson said it best. Everybody has a game plan so they get punched in the mouth.
When you were quarterbacking at Northern Colorado, if you had gotten some feedback from
NFL people that you might have been a draftee in the top three rounds, would you have even entertained Mr. King’s offer to go into boxing?
No, not at all. Actually that was be the scenario. I was actually pursuing the NFL. Things didn’t pan out the way I wanted them to. And it turned out that Michael King was still there when the NFL door closed so that’s why I began to venture into the boxing world.
To tell you the truth, I actually started boxing to stay in shape for football camps but soon those doors closed and boxing was the only thing I had. And I’m grateful for it now. God’s put boxing into my life and it’s been a blessing in disguise.
Did you ever doubt you would get back into the title picture and what does it mean now to get another chance at the heavyweight title?
Yes, going into depression sometimes and things like that. I’m a pretty positive, optimistic type of guy. My way of bouncing back from that title shot against Joshua was to study the film day in and day out.
I watched it round after round, minute after minute. I watched it in silence. I watched it with people. I watched it without people. And I guess I can say that the quarterback background in me kind of studying. And I wanted to see everything that I did wrong.
I didn’t want to see anything I did right because I understood there were things that were done right but there were a lot more things that were done wrong. I wanted to capitalize on my mistakes.
That’s what I did at the time. Me and my trainer Manny Robles went back to California and kind of restructured my boxing skills and they grew. And lucky enough that we were fortunate enough to have three big KO wins and here we are back again fighting for the world title.
I’m looking forward. I learned a lot more from that one loss than I learned from all my wins in my whole boxing career and amateur career. So that one lifetime experience in the summer of 2016 against Joshua was a lot bigger for my boxing career than anything could have been.
Do you see the incident that happened with Wilder as motivation right now or do you want to get beyond that so you’ll be able to fight as clearly as possible when you face Wilder on the 18th?
It’s been the biggest motivational tool in this last camp. It’s the one thing that gets me up early in the morning to run. It’s the thing that gets me through the 10th and 11th and 12th round of sparring. It’s the idea of I want to achieve and stay focused.
It’s definitely been a huge motivator for camp. I think I’m going to close here pretty soon, the week of the fight. It’s more or less going to be the mental idea that I’m going into a heavyweight title fight to perform my best, to fulfill my best.
I’m not going to take any of that emotion or craziness into the fight because if you do that you’ve already lost the battle.
Okay, great. That’s our last question for you Dominic. We really appreciate you taking the time as you finish up your training today to be on this call. Dominic, any last words?
Thank you Kelly. Thank you ladies and gentlemen. I appreciate you all having me. I’m looking forward to having an explosive firework night on May 18. The fight week is going to be great.
I’m feeling great. Looking forward to travelling and can’t wait to get started Saturday night.